Elections in Russia after strong repression of opponents

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia held legislative elections on Sunday in its 11 time zones, in which the ruling party is expected to maintain its majority after a relentless crackdown on the opposition.

So far the elections have been marred by multiple reports of cheating, including ballot boxes with false votes, lack of security measures and intimidation of observers.

The elections are considered a fundamental part of President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to cement his power prior to the 2024 presidential elections, for which control of the State Duma (parliament) will be key.

However, a large majority of opposition candidates are prohibited from competing in the elections, amid intense attempts by the ruling party to suppress any expression of dissent or protest.

By Sunday afternoon – the last of the three days that people can vote, a shortened period due to the coronavirus pandemic – the turnout at the polls was just over 40% and voting centers had closed in the regions of Siberia and the Far East.

Since Friday, reports of infractions published in the Russian press, opposition politicians and independent observers have abounded. At that time long lines quickly formed outside some voting centers in Moscow, where voters told reporters that they were forced there by their employers, often a state agency.

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