News / Europe

Poor Election Showing by Russia’s Ruling Party Creates Hurdles for Putin

People wave the Russian flag and hold posters reading "This election is farce!" and "Give the country choice back" during an opposition rally in Moscow, Russia, December 5, 2011.
People wave the Russian flag and hold posters reading "This election is farce!" and "Give the country choice back" during an opposition rally in Moscow, Russia, December 5, 2011.

The poor showing of Russia’s ruling party in Sunday's parliamentary elections will likely create hurdles for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who will face voters in March in a presidential election.  But this week, a new political player, the Internet, is amplifying charges of electoral fraud and giving a voice to the opposition.

Putin looked glum when President Dmitry Medvedev tried to put a positive spin on elections that cost Russia’s ruling party one quarter of its seats in parliament.

With barely half of Russians voting for the United Russia party, it was the biggest electoral setback for the ruling party since Putin emerged as Russia’s most visible politician 11 years ago.  And for the last decade, Putin has been more popular than his United Russia party.

Independent pollster Lev Gudkov says Putin still controls parliament, but his image suffered in these elections.

The ruling party won only one third of the votes cast in St. Petersburg - Putin's and Medvedev's hometown.  United Russia won more than 70 percent of the vote in Muslim areas, but only 35 percent of the vote in the nation’s ethnic-Russian heartland.

On Monday, Moscow saw its biggest demonstration in years.  Echo Moscow radio warned listeners of streets closed by riot police.

About 6,000 people marched near the Kremlin, with many chanting “Russia without Putin!”

Before joining the march, opposition politician Vladimir Ryzhkov accused government workers of padding election results in Moscow and other major cities.

“The most catastrophic situation for them are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg - big cities, so-called 'millioniki' - cities with millions of inhabitants.  It's absolutely catastrophic for Putin's party," said Ryzhkov. "So the real result is about 30-35 percent [of the vote for United Russia], no more.  It means that 10-15 percent [of the ballots] have been falsified.”

European observers say the voting was marred by ballot box stuffing and that vote counting was marred by “frequent procedural violations.”

“Our main concern is the lack of separation between the governing party and the state," said Heidi Tagliavini, a Swiss diplomat who heads an observer team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to Germany on Monday, called for investigations of vote fraud allegations in Russia.

"Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted," she said.

In Moscow, independent media websites recovered Monday from massive hacker attacks that disabled them on election day.

Opposition lawyer Mark Feygin says Russia’s Internet explosion is rapidly changing Russia’s political landscape.  He attributes Mr. Putin’s decreasing popularity in Russia’s major cities to increased access to uncensored news on the Internet.

Opposition politician Vladimir Ryzhkov agrees, saying that time is on the side of Russia’s growing number of Internet users.

“Yesterday, it was historic day because this Internet party won and TV party lost,” he said.

Russia recently overtook Germany as the country with the most Internet users in Europe - 51 million people.  And analysts say Sunday's parliamentary elections might have been the first time that Vladimir Putin felt their political power.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid