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Election Observer In Tatarstan Reports Vote Rigging

Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and his wife, Gulsina, vote in Kazan.
Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and his wife, Gulsina, vote in Kazan.
KAZAN, Russia -- An election observer in the Russian republic of Tatarstan says she witnessed several cases of vote rigging at a local polling station in the State Duma elections on December 4, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Golnaz Badretdin, who represents the opposition A Just Russia party*, monitored elections in polling station No. 341 in the village of Salmachy, near the capital, Kazan, along with her colleague.

Badretdin told RFE/RL on December 5 that despite their complaints and protests regarding "numerous violations of the election regulations," local election commission officials refused their requests and warned them they would be forced out of the voting station if they didn't behave.

"There was a lady at the polling station with the registry of all local voters' names. She was registering all those who came to vote and was filling out the ballots of those who did not come. When we challenged the situation, it became noisy, but she [finally] stopped filling in the [blank] ballots," Badretdin said.

Badretdin added that "when they started counting the ballots, the number of those who voted for the ruling United Russia and opposition Communist Party was equal, but then all of a sudden it was announced the votes given to United Russia exceeded 600 and less than 100 votes were given to the Communist Party.

"Then I started looking through all the counted ballots and found that there were votes given to the Communist Party and the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) among those announced as given to United Russia," she said. "After I found that out I demanded access to all the ballots counted for United Russia, but my request was rejected. I consider it the biggest violation we have found at our polling station."

Badretdin added that she was personally counting the number of voters who came to the polling station and, according to her count, some 45 percent of the registered voters came to that polling station to vote.

But she said the local election commission "announced later that there was 60 percent" voter turnout at the polling station.

Russia's opposition activists and their supporters have been protesting the results of the elections since December 4 in Moscow and many other Russian cities. They say the elections have been rigged.

Meanwhile, Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov officially announced on December 5 that the country's ruling United Russia secured 238 seats, the Communist Party will have 92 seats, A Just Russia got 64 seats, and the LDPR will hold 56 seats in the Russian parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, when it convenes next year.

CORRECTION: This story has been amended to correct Golnaz Badretdin's party affiliation. She is a representative of A Just Russia.

Read more in Tatar here

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