On Monday evening, a protest was held in Moscow against the results of the parliamentary elections to the Russian State Duma. Several hundred people gathered at the demonstration. Representatives of the United States and the European Union spoke critically about the Russian elections. A US State Department spokesman said they had taken place “under conditions not conducive to a free and fair trial.” Meanwhile, Brussels has reiterated its concern about the further shrinking of space for the opposition, civil society and independent voices across Russia.
In the elections to the lower house of the parliament of Russia, The State Duma, the ruling United Russia party won with 49.79 percent. votes – the Central Electoral Commission announced on Monday. The second position was taken by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), which, according to the CEC, received 19 percent. votes. The next places are: the populist-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), led by Vladimir Zhirinowski (approx. 7.5%) and Just Russia (approx. 7.4% of the vote).
The opposition centered around Alexei Navalny talks about an election fraud.
This year’s elections were the first parliamentary elections in Russia with a three-day vote. This solution was adopted last year during the vote on the changes to the constitution. At that time, the authorities justified the prolonged vote with the epidemic in Russia.
Protest against the election results
A protest against the results of the Duma elections was organized on Monday evening in Pushkin Square in Moscow. Radio Swoboda estimated the number of participants at several hundred, and the independent portal Meduza – at 200. Reports were received about hundreds of police officers who surrounded the square.
The representatives of the communists appearing in the square announced further demonstrations, “fighting in the courts and in the stands” against the election results. The assembled groups chanted: “Russia without Putin!” and “Down with bandits and thieves!”. The oppositionist Alexei Navalny, who is serving a prison sentence, used the term “party of bandits and thieves” in relation to the ruling United Russia party.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) announced the rally as a meeting with voters that could be held without the consent of the authorities. Moscow’s mayor did not approve the demonstration, citing restrictions related to the pandemic.
The Chancellery of the Prime Minister took second place in the elections to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, obtaining – according to the official results – 19 percent of the votes. At the same time, in Moscow, party candidates lost in eight single-member constituencies in which they had previously led, when the results of electronic voting were added to the already counted votes. The KPRF candidates stated that they would not recognize the results of the online vote in Moscow. Some of the KPRF candidates were supported in the elections by Navalny’s associates as part of a voting strategy called by the opposition activist “intelligent voting”. Navalny proposed that as part of this strategy, support should be given to those candidates who have the best chance of defeating the representatives of United Russia.
United States: We do not recognize the elections to the Russian Duma held on Ukrainian territory
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that the Russian elections “took place under conditions not conducive to a free and fair trial.”
“The use of laws by the Russian authorities on” extremist organizations “,” foreign agents “and” undesirable organizations “has grossly limited political pluralism and prevented Russians from exercising their civil and political rights,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The US diplomacy ministry also announced that it does not recognize the elections held in the sovereign territory of Ukraine and “reiterates its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”
The Russian elections, which lasted from 15 to 17 September, were held in the occupied Crimea, and in the areas occupied by pro-Russian forces in the Donbas, Russia distributed Russian passports en masse before the elections. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the inhabitants of the region were forced to vote. “We call on Russia to honor its international obligations to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, and to end its campaign of pressure against civil society, the political opposition and the independent media,” Price said.
EU: space for opposition and civil society in Russia is shrinking
Following the elections to the Russian State Duma, the European Union reiterated its concern on Monday about the further shrinking of space for the opposition, civil society and independent voices across Russia. She also called on Russia’s leadership to stop this trend.
“In the run-up to the elections, the repression of opposition politicians, civil society organizations and independent media as well as journalists intensified. This limited the choice of Russian voters and the possibility of obtaining complete and accurate information about the candidates,” reads the statement issued on behalf of the EU by the head of the EU Josep Borrell’s diplomacy.
“The EU does not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, and therefore does not recognize the so-called elections held in the occupied Crimean peninsula. State Duma, regional and local elections is contrary to the spirit and objectives of the Minsk agreements. The EU invariably supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine “- emphasized Borrell.
The European Commission is critical of the organization of elections in Russia
European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the elections to the Russian parliament “took place in an atmosphere of intimidation of critics and without credible international observation.” – The European Union regrets that Russia’s decision to severely limit the size and format of the OSCE / ODIHR international election observation mission prevented its deployment. The EU takes note of independent and credible sources reporting serious violations, Stano said at a press conference.
In the run-up to the elections, he added, the repression of opposition politicians, civil society organizations and independent media, as well as journalists, had intensified in order to silence independent voices and eliminate real competition. – This resulted in a restriction of choice for Russian voters and their ability to obtain complete and accurate information about the candidates. The Russian Federation should respect the commitments made under the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe in the field of protection of human rights and democratic values - indicated the spokesman of the European Commission.
He added that the decision of the Russian authorities to include residents of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine in elections to the State Duma, as well as regional and local elections, is contrary to the spirit and objectives of the Minsk agreements to settle the conflict in Donbas. – The EU consistently supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. The EU has implemented a policy of non-recognition of Russian passports issued in areas not controlled by its government. We expect Russia to refrain from acting contrary to the Minsk agreements, said Stano.
Main photo source: MAXIM SHIPENKOV / PAP / EPA