- Kremlin-backed candidates had won 38 seats in the 45-seat Moscow council in the last election, but had only 25 seats in yesterday's election.
- Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who called for the first protests this summer after his allies were banned from voting, said the ruling party's losses were due to its plan for "tactical voting."
- The change in the city's parliament comes amid a sluggish economy, low living standards and a fall in President Vladimir Putin's popularity.
In what was supposed to be a quiet round of regional elections in Russia— and, at the same time, a referendum on President Vladimir Putin, and his ruling party, United Russia— the results of local elections showed that the ruling party suffered significant losses. In Moscow, United Russia lost more than a third of its seats on the city council. The elections followed a police crackdown on anti-government protests over the summer.
However, Kremlin-backed candidates dominated other local and regional elections outside the capital. The Kremlin-backed candidates had won 38 seats in the 45-seat Moscow council in the last election, but had only 25 seats in yesterday’s election. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who called for the first protests this summer after his allies were banned from voting, said the ruling party’s losses were due to its plan for “tactical voting.”
The plan called on Muscovites to vote for politicians who were able to defeat pro-Kremlin candidates, no matter which party they belonged to. The Communist Party, which gained 13 seats, benefited from this by five seats, the liberal Yabloko Party and A Just Russia, each with three seats.
The change in the city’s parliament comes amid a sluggish economy, low living standards and a fall in President Vladimir Putin’s popularity. The United Russia Party, formed in 2001 to support Putin, has seen its popularity plummet in recent years. In Moscow, none of the pro-Kremlin candidates ran under his banner, but presented themselves as “independent.”
Alexander Beglov, deputy governor of St. Petersburg, was elected to lead Russia’s second largest city after his main rival withdrew from the election last week. Moscow Municipal deputy Konstantin Yankauskas , who failed to register as a candidate for the Moscow City Election, wrote on his Facebook, “today we have demonstrated in our native regions, free and courageous citizens who are the main political force— we are what happened today in our election.”
Activists spoke of irregularities at polling stations across the country, while videos on social media showed the same voters voting several times in St. Petersburg and other cities. The head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said the final turnout was 41.2 percent. Local elections were held on “Unified Polling Day” in 85 Russian regions, including elections for 13 legislative councils, and direct elections for 21 deputies in the State Duma of various cities.
As the UN human rights commissioner called for an investigation into excessive use of force by Russian police in response to the protests, the Russian leadership expressed support for an investigation into accusations that US Internet companies Google and Facebook interfered in Russian elections. “A committee has been set up to look into these issues in a professional manner,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman. For its part, Google and Facebook denied the accusations and indicated in separate statements that the advertisers are responsible for this.