Authorities lose majority in Moscow parliament – a rundown of the Russian elections
After months of unprecedented political scandals and protests, the results of the September 8 elections in Russia are out.
Briefly, they are as follows:
• In Moscow, where elections we held for the city parliament (Moscow City Council), the authorities’ United Russia party were unable to win a majority. At least 20 of the 45 seats were won by candidates nominated by opposition parties. In the last elections in 2014, only seven opposition candidates made it into parliament.
• However, in all 16 constituent entities of Russia where governors were elected, the current leaders of the regions appointed by the Kremlin are in the lead.
The most important were the elections to the legislative assembly in Russia’s two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
For various reasons, local authorities refused to register independent candidates in these cities, which caused mass protests in which tens of thousands of people took part.
The authorities responded with repression: hundreds of people received administrative arrest of up to 30 days and huge fines; six people were convicted on criminal charges for a term of two to five years.
The 20 constituencies in Moscow where pro-government representatives lost will go to candidates from the Russia Communist Party and other parties – A Just Russia and Yabloko.
All 20 winning candidates were recommended to voters by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
His idea, which he called “smart voting,” was to vote in a consolidated manner for candidates who had the greatest chance of defeating the choice of the authorities.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin called the recent elections to the Moscow City Duma “the most emotional and truly competitive in recent history.”
Regarding the emotionality of the elections, unusual polls took place at polling stations in Moscow all day on September 8.
Actors dressed as ninja turtles and other children’s comics heroes came in to vote.
A flower garden contest was also held in Moscow, the aim of which, again, was to popularize the elections.
Concerts such as the one below also took place in the city:
At the same time, on election day in Moscow, 14 people were detained, some of them were in T-shirts in support of the accused in the “Moscow case” – a criminal case launched against several people for offenses such as posting ‘offensive’ material on social media or ‘touching the helmet of a police officer’, who were convicted to terms ranging from two to five years imprisonment.
Official data about the elections was published very slowly. In the district where the main candidate of the ruling United Russia party was running, Andrey Metelsky, the release of data was delayed for many hours.
Great ridicule on social media was caused by a performance on the street in support of him by singer Diana Gurtskaya with a song titled “I see no other candidate” – Gurtskaya is blind.
On the initiative of main Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in three districts of Moscow, the system of “internet voting” was tried – which provided for voter turnout above 90 per cent, which can be called a record.
Elections in the Russian regions
In all regions of Russia, Kremlin-appointed interim governors won. In St. Petersburg, interim governor Beglov scored 64 percent of the vote, although he is unpopular among local residents. This is also indicated by an unprecedented low turnout – 24 percent.
Most of the reports of violations were also received from St. Petersburg (both during the vote and during the counting of votes. Here, employees of the the military and other government departments all came together as a group to vote. Blatant ballet box stuffing and attacks on observers were also recorded.
Also in St. Petersburg there was a rather surprising incident: the heads of the election commissions took off en masse with the ballots without issuing copies to voters.