Voter fraud and annulled election result in Russia sparks growing regional protests

Voter fraud and annulled election result in Russia sparks growing regional protests

Following weeks of civil unrest over pension reforms, Russia is likely to see further protests today, after a local gubernatorial

FILE PHOTO: A policeman guards a polling station during the gubernatorial election in Vladivostok

Photo: Reuters/Yuri Maltsev

Following weeks of civil unrest over pension reforms, Russia is likely to see further protests today, after a local gubernatorial election in the Primorye region was annulled for voter fraud.

Suspicions arose after incumbent Andrei Tarasenko, who was trailing by 6%, surged ahead to overtake Communist challenger Andrei Ishchenko, despite that nearly 95% of the vote was already counted. An uproar immediately ensued, with hundreds taking to the streets in protest of the impossible come-back, forcing the elections commission to annul the result and hold another election within three months from now.

While this decision was likely necessary given the public dissent, an annulment has only reaffirmed Russians’ fears of fraudulent elections. Many suspect President Vladimir Putin, who was recorded telling Tarasenko that “everything is going to be fine.,” of having a hand in the results.

Expect Putin’s approval rating to dip even further, though it remains in the 60s, from both the initial fraud and the likely strong police crackdown at today’s protests. Expect this rising public dissatisfaction with the government to continue unless Putin makes further concessions on welfare or this election—an outcome which is unlikely given the President’s historically strong-armed approach.

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