News / Europe

    Russian Ruling Party Wins Regional Vote

    An election official assists a man with his ballot papers at a polling station in the Southern Russian city of Stavropol, March 13, 2011
    An election official assists a man with his ballot papers at a polling station in the Southern Russian city of Stavropol, March 13, 2011
    James Brooke

    Russia’s ruling party has won Sunday's regional elections, but with less than half of votes cast.  

    Voting from the Baltic to the Arctic, millions of Russians cast ballots in regional elections Sunday.  The voting was seen as the kick-off for a political year - parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections next March.

    Heavy government support backed the official ruling party, United Russia.  About 4,000 opposition candidates were disqualified. Opposition posters were torn down from billboards.  Opposition access to TV and radio was highly restricted.

    On voting day, the United Russia machine focused on getting a massive turnout from voters who heavily depend on the goodwill of government officials - soldiers, students living in state university dormitories and elderly people living in nursing homes.

    Grigory Melkonyants runs Golos, Russia’s only independent election watchdog group.  He says many of his 400 election observers decided not to go to polling stations after they received calls or visits from the police.

    While he says the election environment in Russia gets worse and worse with each election, voters are increasingly willing to use the Internet or his toll-free number to call in complaints, more than 700 so far.

    Despite the pressure, and the official support, United Russia received only 46 percent of the vote.  With the opposition vote split among three other parties, Russia’s ruling party won 68 percent of seats in ruling legislatures.

    Victor Linnik, editor of Slovo, a political magazine, said, "Overall results by the United Russia can be considered a modest win."

    The communists came in second, winning 13 percent of the seats.  Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, said,"The ruling party has again demonstrated all the dirt and disgusting things that the voters don’t accept."

    That criticism was not aired on state television.

    Last month, Finance Minister Minister Aleksei Kudrin made waves by saying Russia needs "fair and honest" elections to support its economic recovery.

    On Monday, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took a low political profile, choosing to go to television for a briefing on the nuclear emergency in Japan.

    Off-camera, he praised the election results in an interview with Interfax news agency, saying United Russia "has won in all regions where elections were held."  He said, "It is the leading political force."

    Mr. Putin said the vote is an indicator of people’s confidence in the authorities in general in a crisis.

    Linnik, the political analyst, predicted. "In Duma elections for December of this year, we will pretty much see a repeat of the same showing, for United Russia and other parties," he said.

    Russia is the world’s largest oil producer, and oil prices are on Mr. Putin’s side.

    With the turmoil in the Arab world and the loss of nuclear power plants in Japan, the price of Russian oil is 50 percent higher than last year.  That means more money for Prime Minister Putin to raise pensions and state salaries in the run-up to elections that are to decide Russia’s future for much of this decade.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.