December 05, 2011

Thousands in Moscow protest Putin, election results

By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY
By Ivan Sekretarev, AP

Thousands of demonstrators protested in Moscow today against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his party, which took the largest share of votes in parliamentary elections that both domestic and international observers said were rigged.
The crowd of 5,000 to 10,000 people, mainly young people, chanted, "Russia without Putin!"
A group of several hundred protestors marched toward the Central Elections Commission near the Kremlin, the Associated Press reports, but were blocked and arrested by riot police.
Putin, the former Russian president, became prime minister in 2008 because of term limits but will run next year for a third term in the presidency.
In Sunday's election, Putin's United Russia party took about 50% of the vote, a significant drop from the 64% it got in 2007.

Opposition politicians and election monitors charged that the voting was inflated because of ballot stuffing.
International observers pointed to procedural violations and serious indications of ballot stuffing after a campaign slanted in favor of United Russia, the AP reports.
"To me, this election was like a game in which only some players are allowed to compete," Heidi Tagliavini, the head of the international observer mission, said at a news conference.
United Russia led with 49.5% of the vote after 96% of precincts were counted and was on track to claim 238 of the Duma's 450 seats, according to the Central Election Commission.
The Communist Party was poised to finish second with 20% of the vote, up from 14% in 2007.
The final results may be announced today, but the count dragged on, prompting opposition politicians to charge election officials with trying to fiddle with the vote count to push United Russia over the 50% mark.

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