News / Europe

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

People wave the Russian flag and hold posters reading
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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs