Putin praises elections as hundreds protest results

Putin praises elections as hundreds protest results

Russian President Vladimir Putin called last week’s parliamentary elections “free and fair” as more than 1,000 people gathered in Moscow to protest poll results which were overshadowed by massive accusations of fraud .
“The elections themselves were held openly and in strict accordance with the law,” Putin said on Saturday in talks with politicians from all parties represented in the new State Duma. He underlined the fact that a new fifth force is now represented in parliament with the New People party, proof of a democratic electoral process.

The final election results were released on Friday and handed the ruling United Russia party that supports Putin 324 of the 450 seats in the State Duma.

The opposition and independent election observers complained of numerous systematic violations and frauds.

The rally in central Moscow was called by the Communist Party, which came in second with 18.9%. Among parliamentarians’ requests was a recount of the votes cast online,
which the opposition claims have been systematically falsified.

“I came here today to express my will that we have been deceived once again,” said a woman during the protest.

The protest in Pushkin Square drew a heavy police presence, with barriers erected and prisoner transport vehicles ready. However, no detention was observed during the demonstration.

The officers played music through loudspeakers, presumably to muffle speeches made by Communists during the demonstration. Russian authorities had previously issued a warning regarding their participation in unauthorized protests.

Hundreds of Moscow residents responded to a similar call for a protest made by the Communist Party last Monday. In the days that followed, several participants were arrested. Protest watch group OVD-Info said it was aware of more than 50 cases of people involved in the protest subsequently experiencing official harassment.

The Kremlin has said it wants electronic voting, which was used in Moscow for last week’s elections as well as in several other regions, rolled out nationwide in upcoming polls.


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