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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid