Kremlin-controlled party retains grip on Russian parliament



Newsletter: Europe Express

Russia’s ruling Kremlin-controlled party retained its qualified majority in parliament after an election campaign marred by accusations of widespread fraud and crackdown on supporters of jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

United Russia, the main vehicle of President Vladimir Putin’s policy, was on track to maintain its two-thirds qualified majority in the 450-seat chamber with 314 seats, up from 334 in the last election in 2016, its leader Andrei said on Monday. Turchak.

The three-day vote, the last before Putin’s term in office expires in 2024, was an important test for the Kremlin to show that it still controls the political system amid anger over declining living standards , a decline in support for United Russia and several repressive measures according to officials. are necessary to combat foreign interference.

Putin, who is self-isolating after a Covid outbreak in the Kremlin last week, thanked the Russians for their “confidence and active position in life.”

Navalny’s team – largely in exile after a court declared them an “extremist organization” in June – had sought to channel anger against the government by ordering its supporters to vote for one of the candidates endorsed by the Kremlin according to the recommendations of a “smart voting” app. .

The campaign for tactical voting was largely wiped out after Apple and Google bowed to pressure from the Kremlin to make the app unavailable when polls opened on Friday, while online voting was introduced in Moscow and six other regions made it more difficult to track possible forgery, activists said. .

Golos, an independent election observer, named a “foreign agent,” said he had counted nearly 5,000 possible violations at the polls. But the chairman of the electoral commission, Ella Pamfilova, told Putin that “there had been a lot less violations compared to the last campaign, a lot less than ever” and said the vote would be canceled in only three stations. voting across the country.

With 99% of the ballots counted, United Russia won 50% of the vote, the Communists – the only one of the Kremlin-controlled parties in the Duma, the lower house, to oppose one of Putin’s major initiatives in recent years. years. – almost doubling their 2016 total to 19%.

All but two of Russia’s 85 regions voted United Russia by proportional representation, while the party also won 198 of the remaining 225 single-member constituencies.

Six other parties closely linked to the Kremlin will also occupy seats in the Duma, including New People, a party formed last year in an apparent attempt to attract support from Navalny’s middle class.

The participation rate was 52%, an increase from 47% in 2016.

Members of a local electoral commission empty a ballot box in Moscow. © Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images

The opposition accused election officials of falsifying the result after several candidates in Moscow abruptly lost dominant positions in the final tally after an unexplained delay in counting nearly 2 million online ballots, giving in United Russia a free kick in the capital.

Navalny claimed that candidates backed by the “smart vote” won almost all seats in Moscow and St. Petersburg, cities that harbor the greatest sense of opposition.

“So the robot thought and smoked and decided to delay the publication [the results] until the skillful hands of United Russia form the results to say the exact opposite, ”Navalny wrote in a jail post his team posted on Instagram.

The Communists said they would refuse to recognize the results online. But city authorities quickly refused to issue them with a demonstration permit, citing the risks of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know this result is impossible,” wrote on Twitter Mikhail Lobanov, a Communist candidate who narrowly lost in western Moscow. “Hundreds of thousands of people voted for us. Yes, it was a protest vote, but I think we, the “no” candidates, are responsible for defending those votes alongside our voters.

The US State Department said the crackdown on the elections was “not conducive to free and fair procedures,” while the UK Foreign Office said the crackdown was a “step backwards” for the United States. democracy in Russia.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the vote took place “in an intimidating atmosphere of critical and independent voices” and quoted “independent and reliable sources as saying serious violations during the vote “.


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