MOSCOW: The party claimed victory a few hours after the polls closed on Sunday evening.
President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party looks set for another big win in the country’s parliamentary elections, despite a drop in support.
The party claimed victory a few hours after the polls closed on Sunday evening.
Putin’s most vocal critics were barred from running in the election, and candidates who were allowed to stand were heavily vetted.
There have been numerous allegations of ballot stuffing and forced voting. But Russia’s electoral commission rejected claims of widespread irregularities.
Initial results showed that with 90% of votes counted, United Russia had won nearly 50%, followed by the Communist Party with about 20%.
A senior United Russia official, Andrei Turchak, said his party would win more than 300 of the 450 seats in the country’s parliament, the State Duma.
The partial results show that despite Mr Putin’s party easily retaining its majority in parliament, it did lose some ground. In 2016, the party won 54% of the vote.
The Communists, who broadly support Putin’s initiatives in the parliament, saw their support grow by 8%. But their leader, Gennady Zyuganov, has alleged widespread violations, including ballot-stuffing, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Pictures shared on social media showed people allegedly stuffing votes into boxes, with one showing a hand popping out from behind a Russian flag.
Concerns over living standards and allegations of corruption from jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny have likely affected support for Mr Putin’s party.
But he remains popular with many Russians who credit him with standing up to the West and restoring national pride.
For Russia’s party of power, it’s job done. United Russia is confident that it has retained its parliamentary majority, albeit with a slightly smaller share of the vote than last time round.
Judging by last night’s celebrations at party headquarters, the party faithful are more than pleased with the result. United Russia insists it won this race fair and square.