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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More