Moscow, 18 September 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The second day of Russia‘s parliamentary elections on Saturday has already been overshadowed by widespread allegations of fraud, voter coercion and ballot stuffing.
So far 137 complaints of voter coercion have been received from all over Russia, according to electoral commission director Ella Pamfilova. Voters have also reportedly been put under pressure to vote in a certain way when using the new online voting procedure.
The Central Electoral Commission announced it would be carrying out an investigation into the allegations.
The independent voter rights organization Golos has shared numerous videos showing hundreds of uniformed workers and what appear to be entire workforces of various state-owned enterprises arriving en masse at polling stations across Russia.
Golos also published footage and photos of ballot boxes being stuffed with entire packets of votes, a well-established method for electoral fraud in Russia.
There were also multiple complaints from several parts of Russia that the camera surveillance supposed to exist at all polling stations was consistently not working, leaving the ballot boxes easy to tamper with.
“It was a terrible day. Greasy and dirty,” St Petersburg local politician Irina Fatyanova tweeted.
After polls close on Sunday, Russia is expected to have a new 450-strong State Duma in place for the next five years, as well as several new regional and city governments.
The pro-Kremlin United Russia is seeking to retain its absolute majority in the State Duma. It is supported by President Vladimir Putin, for whom the election is an important test of the national mood.