VLADIMIR Putin’s United Russia party has sensationally lost a THIRD of its seats in Moscow in a local election bloodbath.
Sunday’s poll was one of the most closely watched regional elections in years after many opposition candidates were excluded triggering the capital’s biggest protests in nearly a decade.
Vladimir Putin’s United Russia lost a third of its seats in Moscow’s local elections[/caption]
The vote was seen by outspoken opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his allies as an opportunity to make inroads against United Russia ahead of the 2021 national election.
Protests erupted in mid-July after the Central Election Commission refused to register a large number of opposition candidates, saying they had failed to collect enough signatures from genuine backers.
The excluded candidates, including allies of Navalny, slammed the movie claiming it was designed to stop them winning seats in Moscow’s parliament.
Navalny advised his supporters to vote tactically across Russia for the candidate with the best chance of defeating Putin’s party.
In a sign that United Russia is losing ground in Moscow, the party did not officially nominate a single candidate for the Moscow City Duma and all of its members ran as independents, playing down their ties to the party.
Thousands have been arrested in protests in recent weeks which saw riot police wearing balaclavas to shield themselves from facial recognition technology, reports The Guardian.
And in an example of how divisive Russia’s politics has become, the country’s elections head, Ella Pamfilova, was assaulted at her home with an electric shock gun shortly before the polls opened, it has been reported.
Nearly complete election data cited by the RIA news agency suggested United Russia had lost around one third of the seats it previously controlled.
RIA said it was on course to control 26 of the Moscow’s parliament’s 45 seats, enough to retain its majority.
In a 2014 election it did much better, winning 28 seats in its own name and a further 10 by independent candidates that it backed.
This time round, RIA said the Communist Party took seats from United Russia, reportedly winning 13, up from five last time.
Two other parties, the opposition Yabloko Party and the Fair Russia Party appeared to have won three each, it said.
Local or regional elections took place across all of Russia’s 11 time zones on Sunday.
But the main focus was on Moscow after this summer’s demonstrations there turned into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013.
Several videos circulating on social media showing some voters openly stuffing ballot boxes with multiple voting slips.
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At more than 60 percent, Putin’s own popularity rating is much higher than most Western leaders, though lower than it has been previously.
The former KGB officer won a landslide election victory last year that will keep him in office until 2024.
United Russia’s own popularity is suffering from discontent over a move to raise the retirement age however at a time of steadily falling incomes.
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