MOSCOW -- An independent Russian election monitoring group, Golos, says low turnout for regional and local elections across the country on September 10 was caused by "the low level of competition and by voters' distrust toward the election process."
In a report issued on September 12, Golos said its observation of the elections "suggest that illegal strategies and tactics are still prevalent in certain regions."
Golos said it received "reports of documented election rigging" from a number of polling stations.
It said the complaints involved "ballot box stuffing and exertion of pressure on voters by their employers or superiors; illegal campaigning; illegal transportation and bribery of voters; violations of the "home" voting procedure; violations of the rights of observers, members of commissions, and representatives of the media; and violations of counting procedures.
The ruling United Russia party dominated most regional and local races in the last major vote before Russia's March 2018 presidential election.
United Russia candidates and Kremlin allies, many of them incumbents, won all 15 regional gubernatorial races -- from the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad to Buryatia on Lake Baikal.
They also won a vote for the head of the naval port city of Sevastopol in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia occupied and seized from Ukraine in 2014.
But opposition candidates appeared to gain a toehold in Moscow with a strong showing in races for district councils in the capital.
The European Union said it does not recognize the elections in Crimea as legitimate because Russia illegally took possession of the Ukrainian territory.
"Anybody elected in the Crimean Peninsula claiming to 'represent' Crimea and Sevastopol will not be recognized as representatives of those territories, which are Ukrainian," an EU spokesperson said.