Putin Praises Poll Results As Hundreds Protest In Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised last week's parliamentary elections as "free and fair" on Saturday, Sept. 25, while hundreds of people gathered in Moscow to protest against the results of the polls that were overshadowed by massive accusations of fraud, Hannah Wagner and Christian Thiele reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Photo Insert: Russian President Vladimir Putin will keep his iron grip on Russia after his party dominated the parliamentary elections amid a plethora of accusations of bullying tactics.
"The elections themselves were held openly and in strict accordance with the law," Putin said during talks with top politicians from all parties represented in the new State Duma. He pointed to the fact that a new, fifth force is now represented in the parliament with the New People party as evidence of a democratic election process.
United Russia won the vote last weekend with 49.8 percent. The Communists came in second with 18.9 percent; like all other parties represented in the Duma, they are considered close to the Kremlin. Opposition and independent election observers complained of numerous violations and systematic fraud.
The unauthorized rally in Moscow was called by the Communist Party. Among the parliamentarians' demands were a recount of votes cast online, which the opposition claims were systematically falsified. Putin dismissed the accusations of fraud on Saturday, especially the ones about online votes, saying that reservations about electronic voting had only arisen "because someone did not like the result."
In Moscow, online voting results had tipped the balance in favor of United Russia but were announced only after paper votes were counted despite theoretically being available the moment polls closed.