Opposition, NGO cry fraud in Russian polls
Russian citizens vote at a polling station in the Russian embassy in Minsk during Russia’s presidential election on March 18, 2018.MAXIM MALINOVSKY / AFP
Russian opposition activists and an NGO on Sunday reported ballot stuffing and multiple voting during the presidential election which is set to see Vladimir Putin win a fourth Kremlin term.
The non-governmental election monitor Golos, which publishes a list of fraud cases online, by early afternoon had counted 1,764 irregularities, including observers prevented from carrying out their work.
The movement of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most vocal opponent who has been barred from standing in the election for legal reasons, said it had sent out 33,000 volunteers to monitor the election.
Navalny’s website reported hundreds of cases of fraud, notably in Moscow and the region around the capital, Saint Petersburg and Bashkortostan in the Urals.
Support for Putin is significantly lower in Moscow and Saint Petersburg than in Russia as a whole, according to recent official polls.
Navalny supporters working as election monitors were prevented from entering some polling stations, a lawyer for the campaign said during a press briefing.
Navalny himself tweeted a link to a video showing ballot stuffing in a polling station in Russia’s far east.
The Central Election Commission said it will investigate.
Some 80 percent of polling stations are under video surveillance, according to the commission.
In the absence of doubt over the outcome, the main focus of the election has become voter turnout — with the Kremlin seeking a strong mandate for Putin and Navalny calling for a boycott of polls he denounces as a sham.
Opposition activists said they had also witnessed voters being bussed to polling stations by police and discount coupons being given to Russians who turned out to vote.