Pro-Putin vote rigging claims void regional Russian election result | News | DW | 20.09.2018
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Pro-Putin vote rigging claims void regional Russian election result

Officials in Russia's Primorsky region said they found voting irregularities in favor of the Kremlin-backed candidate. Andrei Tarasenko mounted an improbable comeback by winning all of the last 20,000 ballots counted.

In an unprecedented move and a rare blow to the Kremlin, Ella Pamfilova, the head of the Central Election Commission, on Thursday recommended a re-running the governorship election in Primorsky Krai after a number of election irregularities had been identified, including ballot stuffing and vote buying. However, she did not accuse Kremlin-backed candidate, Andrei Tarasenko, of orchestrating the vote-rigging.

A repeat run-off must now be held within three months after the nulled September 16 vote. Pamfilova said, "There was no other way out of the situation." Asked if she could guarantee the next vote would be fair, she responded: "Now only God can guarantee things."

Russian protests in Vladivostok (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Balashov)

Communist candidate Ishchenko has demanded he declared the winner of last week's vote after the election commission found instances of ballot stuffing and vote buying

Miracle comeback?

The decision to void the election result came after Communist Party supporters took to the streets of Vladivostok to protest Tarasenko's win. The pro-Kremlin candidate mounted an improbable comeback over his Communist challenger, Andrei Ishchenko, overnight on Sunday during the final stages of counting.

With 99 percent of the votes counted, Tarasenko, a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was trailing Ishchenko by 2 percent, only for the election commission to declare him the winner by just over a single percentage point. The results showed Tarasenko winning every single one of the final 20,000 ballots counted.

Tarasenko said he accepted the commission's decision, telling Russian media "there have been too many complaints, everything has to be fair and decent."

Read more: Russia: 1,000 detained in anti-government protests

However, the Communist Party appeared to stick to its position by urging authorities to call the race for Ishchenko. The Communist candidate said he would appeal the decision before courts and was planning further rallies in Vladivostok.

This month's local elections in Russia saw the ruling United Russia candidates in the regions of Khabarovsk, Khakasia and Vladimir all fail to win the first round. Falling living standards and a hike in the retirement age  have prompted growing discontent aimed the Putin regime.

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dm/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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