MOSCOW – The results of Russia’s presidential election were never in doubt: another six-year term for the incumbent, Vladimir Putin.
But that doesn’t mean election day passed with no surprises.
Here are some of the more flagrant instances of election violations and notable shenanigans recorded around the country:
1. Mob Attacks Monitors
At Polling Station No. 1,126 in Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan, observers and journalists flagged several election violations, including repeated ballot-stuffing and a physical attack on election monitors.
The first violation was caught by a security camera shortly after the polling station opened, when a woman who appears to be a station official is seen sneaking out of the room before returning with a handful of ballots, which she stuffs into a ballot box. The stack is so thick it gets caught for a moment in the box’s slot.
Not long after, the same security camera shows what was described by witnesses as a mob of young men entering the polling station before violently dragging monitors out of sight of the ballot box. Then, with the monitors and voters distracted, two men go to work stuffing ballots into the abandoned ballot boxes. Video of the incident had been viewed tens of thousands of times by the time of this story’s publication.
Max Seddon, a journalist with The Financial Times who was at the polling station when the attack occurred, later posted a photograph of a monitor who he reported had been injured by the mob.
Golos, the respected independent election monitor, reported that as of late afternoon Moscow time, it had received at least 2,263 reports of alleged violations.
2. Man Eats Ballot
One apparently upset – or hungry? – voter in the Siberian city of Omsk filmed himself eating his ballot.
Aleksei Navalny, arguably Putin’s biggest challenger, who was barred from running over a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated, had urged Russians to boycott the presidential vote.
Many voters protested the election by defacing their ballot with remarks such as “Give Us Back Our Elections, You Creeps.”
3. The Ol’ ‘Get-The-Old-Lady-To-Do-It’ Trick
Of the many recorded instances of apparent ballot-stuffing, one stood out because of how it exploited an elderly voter.
As the woman struggles to slip her completed ballot into the ballot box at Novokuznetsk’s Polling Station No. 626, another woman comes over, grabs the ballot, walks away, and then returns a moment later with what looks like several ballots. She then proceeds to show the woman how to properly drop them into the box, which she eventually does.
4. Balloon Block
At Precinct No. 268 in Kemerovo, central Russia, a security camera catches the moment when election officials begin counting ballots.
Just as they are about to dump a box full of ballots onto a table, a woman believed to be the precinct’s chairwoman strolls toward the camera and maneuvers a cluster of balloons in front of it, blocking the view of the room -- and the ballots -- for a full 90 seconds.
5. Man Wall
At Precinct No. 144 in Kumyshskoye, in the North Caucasus republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, some men took up positions reminiscent of a soccer defensive wall, blocking the security camera’s view of the ballot box.