Shocking images in Russia show evidence of large-scale “vote rigging” ahead of this weekend’s parliamentary elections, opposition activists say.
Huge queues of “state employees”, including soldiers, were seen at polling stations across the country amid claims they were ordered to vote at polling stations. specific places to influence the outcome.
In St. Petersburg, a woman was arrested after carrying a bag to a polling station filled with more than 100 ballots.
Vladimir Putin votes online for parliamentary elections as he remains isolated due to Covid
Russia began three days of voting in national legislative elections and local contests on Friday.
Although 14 parties are participating, many candidates considered anti-Putin have been barred from entry.
Key opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic, remains in prison after being allegedly poisoned with a chemical warfare agent, and anyone associated with him is banned from voting.
Other figures of the Russian opposition even went into exile by plane, fearing imprisonment.
The Golos voter rights movement claimed up to 1,600 alleged violations, but these had not been verified.
Activists pointed to “suspicious” and “atypical” queues in Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Moscow as evidence that state employees were ordered to register and vote at some polling stations close to their work, claiming that they had been “tasked” with supporting pro-Putin United Russia.
Huge queues of ‘state employees’, including soldiers, were seen at polling stations across the country
The accusation was strongly denied by the Kremlin.
But in Khabarovsk, soldiers were seen rushing to a polling station to vote, while a swarm of National Guards gathered at a polling station in Omsk to vote.
Disturbing footage of a woman named Lyubov Zenkova in St. Petersburg looked suspicious.
She was arrested after refusing to open her bag at a polling station.
Election official Vladimir Molodozhenya told Fontanka media outlet: “The woman was arrested by a police officer at the entrance to the station.
Russia began three days of voting in national parliamentary elections and local contests on Friday
“She had a bag in her hand, which he asked to open. There was a stack of ballots, over a hundred.
“She turned and walked away. “
The official said, “We insisted on her detention and the police caught her.
“She was taken to the 78th Police Department with a bag. “
Independent TV channel Rain claimed the woman was seen speaking privately with the top local election official.
Folded votes were also seen lumped together in a ballot box in Krasnoyarsk – a sign of rigging, according to the opposition.
Other footage reportedly shot today in St. Petersburg appeared to show multiple votes by people at a polling station.
But city voters had to legitimately vote in up to five contests, so it was not clear that this amounted to abuse.
Despite 14 parties participating, many candidates considered anti-Putin have been barred from entry
The specter of vote rigging has dominated the vote in all recent Russian elections.
The Kremlin was forced to deny that the long lines of workers lining up to vote were proof that state workers were being forced to vote for the United Russia party’s pro-Putin candidates.
A video showed hundreds of people lining up in Moscow, near the Russian Foreign Ministry, but similar scenes were seen in all 11 time zones of the country.
“They made a decision and came to vote, you must agree,” insisted Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Or maybe some of them work Saturdays and Sundays, maybe they have a shift.
“There is absolutely no problem with that, absolutely. “
Peskov had been asked to comment on the queues which, according to the Interfax news agency, were observed outside police polling stations.
“Why should we assume this is coercion?” I just don’t understand the gist of your question.
The Kremlin was forced to deny that long lines of workers lining up to vote were proof that state workers were being forced to vote
“People come to vote. It’s a three day vote, a lot of people want to vote quickly and be free for the weekend.
“Where is the conclusion that this is coercion?” “
Putin – in quarantine after those around him were affected by a Covid outbreak – voted online.
He will have the chance to win an apartment or a car in an election lottery for online voters.
Navalny and other opposition figures have called for a “smart vote” – even for Communists – in an effort to defeat pro-Putin candidates.
The results will be announced on Sunday evening.