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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid