News / Europe

Russian Ruling Party Weakened as Voters Choose New Parliament

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cast their ballots in Moscow, December 4, 2011.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cast their ballots in Moscow, December 4, 2011.
James Brooke

Russia's Prime Minister is hoping for a renewed mandate from Sunday’s parliamentary elections.  Instead, Vladimir Putin's political party appears to have lost ground.

Exit polls indicate that Mr. Putin’s United Russia party is hoping to keep its majority in parliament, with nearly one quarter of its seats going to the opposition.

After state-run television aired exit polls that indicated that fewer than half of Russian voters supported the ruling party, Mr. Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev addressed a meeting of party officials on live television.

Mr. Medvedev said the reduced support at the polls reflected the mood in the country.

Russians complain about corruption, a big gap between rich and poor, an authoritarian political system and a weak economy that only now is back to the level it was before the global economic recession three years ago.

With about half of the ballots counted, United Russia has won about half of the votes cast, down from 64 percent in the last parliamentary elections in 2007.  That vote gave the ruling party a two thirds majority, enough to change the constitution.

Now it looks as if the United Russia will need to make alliances to pass simple legislation.

On national television Sunday night, Prime Minister Putin seemed unconcerned. Mr. Putin said the election results will allow for the stable development of Russia.  But analysts say he had hoped for a political boost from Sunday’s vote.  In three months, Mr. Putin is scheduled to face voters in presidential elections.

In Moscow, voting was strong for the opposition party, Just Russia.

At a downtown voting station, Alexander Pavlovich Archipov said he voted for Just Russia, hoping to keep the ruling party from controlling parliament. Archipov said he hoped a strong opposition could force a change in United Russia's plans to keep Mr. Putin in power through 2024.

After polls closed across Russia, the political opposition charged that the ruling party vote was boosted by fraud and strict media controls.

The Communist Party complained that the elections were undermined by “massive fraud."  Exit polls appear to show the communists coming in second.

Anonymous attacks on the Internet on Sunday knocked out independent media websites and the website of Golos, or Voice, the only independent election observer group in the country.

Alexei Venediktov, editor in chief of Moscow Echo, a popular radio station downed by the Internet hackers, wrote on Twitter: “The attack on the website on election day is clearly an attempt to inhibit publication of information about violations.”

A week before the election, Mr. Putin compared Golos to Judas, a traitor in the Christian Bible.  A judge has fined Golos $1,000 for its activities.  And a state television network attacked it in a 30-minute program on Friday.  Customs police also detained Golos director, Lilia Shibanova, and confiscated her computer.

Nonetheless, Shibanova says that 90 percent of the group’s 2,500 observers were allowed to watch the voting. Shibanova says that in addition to pressure on  poll watchers, many absentee ballots were fraudulently used.  Golos says that the vast majority of more than 6,000 election complaints that have been lodged are about the conduct of the United Russia party.

Using cell phone cameras, voters say they have documented “cruise voting”, groups of people being bused from polling station to polling station to fill out absentee ballots.  Others say they filmed hospital directors, university professors and factory owners pressuring nurses, students and workers to vote for the ruling party.  Some poll watchers complained that they were not allowed to check to see whether ballot boxes were empty at the start of the day.

After voting in Moscow, Marina Takhirovna, said she believes that the amount of fraud and ballot stuffing was worse than in 2007.

She says she voted largely to ensure that the ruling party did not use her unmarked ballot.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs