Based on the first preliminary results of the Russian parliamentary election, the party affiliated with President Putin appears to be a winner as expected.
According to the exit polls, United Russia can count on some 45% of the vote. Next, the Communist Party follows, with 21 percent of the vote. The Central Electoral Commission also puts United Russia first, with about 13 percent of the votes counted. The party stands at 40 percent of the vote.
United Russia now occupies 343 of the 450 seats in the lower house, and the party in the State Duma will soon be able to regain the majority of the seats. Putin said he was hoping for that. The parliament that has now been elected is still there if Putin wants to bring in a new term as President by 2024.
Around 8 pm (Dutch time), the last polling station in Kaliningrad, in the westernmost region of the country, closed its doors. The offices in the east of the country were already close for hours after three days of voting.
In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, authorities virtually sideline critical organisations with a series of measures. For example, allies of opposition leader Aleksej Navalny, who serves a two-and-a-half year sentence in a criminal camp, were not allowed to participate after Navalnys movement was banned as “extremist” by the judge in June.
Many Kremlin critics left the country and analysts spoke of the “least free elections since Putin came to power in 2000”.
Furthermore, there were doubts about the fair conduct of the elections beforehand. Multiple reports of planned fraud or manipulation of the result appeared. Also, there were virtually no independent observers present for the first time, officially due to restrictions by the corona pandemic.
And since the first day of voting on Friday, fraud alerts have been raining. Yesterday, the leader of the Communist Party spoke of widespread electoral fraud.
The independent observer organization Golos saw various forms of fraud. For example, people would vote more than once and observers in Moscow found a pen with disappearing ink in a polling station.
On social media, several videos showing the alleged fraud were circulating:
The Kremlin stressed in the run-up to the elections that government critics have been prosecuted solely for violating the law.