Russian activists have gone online to vote for a committee to coordinate the country’s opposition movement. A cyber attack, however, made voting difficult.
A website set up to allow activists to cast their ballots online was hit by hackers shortly after the election began at 8:00 a.m. local time on Saturday.
"Oh how they do love to fear elections," Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition figure said in an apparent dig at President Vladimir Putin's government in a message posted on the micro-blogging website Twitter.
A rally was held by several hundred people in central Moscow to support the internet election and protest the recent arrests of opposition activists. Among those who attended was a member of the punk rock band Pussy Riot, who was recently released from jail, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.
The website began working again, and the voting continued several hours later, but service was sporadic.
A message posted on the site warned users that there could be problems and that they should try again later if their initial attempt to vote was unsuccessful.
Prior to the start of the election, organizers said more than 165,000 people had registered to vote.
Loss of momentum
A few polling stations were set up in Moscow and other large cities in order to allow those without Internet access to cast their ballots. Opposition leaders, though, reported a high level of police presence around the polling stations.
Organizers say the main purpose of the online vote is to breathe new life into Russia's opposition movement, which has lost momentum over the past several months.
More than 200 candidates were on the ballot to elect 45 members of an opposition coordinating committee that some have described as a "shadow parliament."
Voting is scheduled to end late on Sunday evening.
pfd/tm (Reuters, AFP)