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Communists Contest Vote

DW staff (ktz)December 2, 2007

Citing massive violations, Russia's Communist Party on Sunday said it planned to contest the results of parliamentary elections that handed a huge victory to President Vladimir Putin's party.

How fair and transparent were the Russian elections?
A man looks through a magnifying glass at the logo of the pro-presidential party United Russia on an election poster.Image: picture-alliance/ dpa

Shortly after the first returns in the parliamentary elections were announced on Dec. 2, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov rejected the result and demanded that party monitors be allowed to verify the count, news agencies reported.

"We do not trust these figures announced by the central elections commission and we will conduct a parallel count," he said.

"I am appealing to the authorities: Stop raping the entire country," Zyuganov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

The head of the party's legal office, Vadim Solovyov, separately said some 300,000 party observers had recorded more than 10,000 election violations during voting for the 450 seats to the State Duma lower house of parliament.

"Our lawyers have already begun preparing a complaint to the Supreme Court to challenge the results of the elections," Solovyov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

"These are violations exceeding all acceptable norms," he said.

A Kremlin-backed campaign to rig the election?

Putin's United Russia party won an overwhelming lead in Russia's fifth parliamentary election since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, according to first partial results.

Zyuganov earlier said the election had been "the toughest and least democratic" ever held in post-Soviet Russia, ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

The opposition has accused the Kremlin of suppressing debate during the campaign, dominating state television, confiscating election leaflets and arresting activists.

Meanwhile Russians across the country complained of being pressured to vote in what election observers have said appeared to be part of an organized campaign to raise turnout and produce a big win for United Russia, whose top candidate is Putin.

Election-monitoring group Golos, which is funded by EU and US organizations, documented cases of voters being paid to cast ballots for United Russia, said Alexander Kynev, a political expert with the group. In the town of Pestovo in the western Novgorod region, voters complained that they were given ballots that had already been filled out for United Russia, he told reporters.

Only some 80 Western observers were allowed into the country to monitor the vote spread across 11 time zones. Europe's main election watchdog, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, had withdrawn plans to send a team to Russia after accusing Moscow of imposing restrictions and deliberately delaying the issuing of visas.

Putin had promised a fair and transparent election and the head of the Central Electoral Commission, Vladimir Churov said voting had progressed "calmly and according to schedule."

Churov has not commented on specific allegations of violations.

Boris Gryzlov, chief of Putin's United Russia party, told reporters violations were not significant.

"Of course there are violations, but the question is do they have an impact on the final result ... They in no way put in doubt the final result," Gryzlov told a news conference.