Russian Communists Protest Online Vote Results As Putin Declares State Duma Elections ‘Free And Fair’
September 25, 2021 17:35 GMT – By Current Time – RFE/RL
MOSCOW — More than 1,000 Russian demonstrators, angered by the official tally from online voting during last week’s parliamentary elections, defied warnings from authorities on September 25 to protest in central Moscow.
The protest was organized by several Russian politicians, most of them Communists, who said they were cheated of victory by an online voting system.
Calling for the online voting system to be scrapped, the protesters held up posters with slogans, such as “bring back the elections.”
“I came here today to express my will that we have once again been deceived,” one woman demonstrator at the rally told reporters.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting with leaders of political parties entering the State Duma that “elections and online voting” are “unstoppable, just like technological progress.”
Despite widespread accusations of fraud and voting irregularities, and in spite of a harsh crackdown and bans against candidates who oppose Putin and the ruling United Russia party, the president declared that last week’s elections were “free and fair.”
“The elections themselves were held openly and in strict accordance with the law,” Putin said.
Many opposition allies of Navalny were barred from running for office. They accuse authorities of censorship.
Navalny’s Smart Voting election-guide app aimed to evade United Russia’s stranglehold on state media and politics. But it disappeared from the Apple and Google online stores on September 17, the day voting started.
A group of independent municipal and regional deputies has launched a petition demanding all results from all of the elections throughout Russia be invalidated due to numerous violations and irregularities in the voting.