The exit polls of Russia’s parliamentary election showed that the pro-Kremlin party is leading its way to the top. These parliament elections are seen as strategically important for both the leading political parties since they will provide a better and strong grip on power and control on Russia’s parliament, also known as State Duma, ahead of the 2024 Presidential election.
According to the election commission, with 33 percent of ballots counted, United Russia had won just over 45 percent of the vote, with its nearest rival, the Communist Party, at around 22 percent and the nationalist LDPR party with around 9 percent.
The election commission also said that early results showed United Russia candidates leading in 179 of those single-constituency seats. However, there are also some reports of ballot violations from Russian media, opposition politicians and election observers in this three-day voting period.
According to reporters, when they asked people in unexpectedly long lines formed at polling stations in Moscow and other cities, some of them said that they were forced to vote by their employers. However, it is unclear whether they are asked to favour a particular party or not.
Not only this but Russia’s Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova also confirmed that at least eight incidents of ballot-stuffing have happened in six Russian regions and the commission has so far invalidated 7,465 ballots in 14 regions.
In recent months, a crackdown against opposition politicians and the Smart Voting strategy devised by Navalny was unleashed. In this crackdown, about 50 websites run by the Navalny party has been blocked.
Smart Voting increases opposition candidates’ chances of winning by telling voters which candidates in specific areas have the best chances at defeating ones backed by the Kremlin, and the authorities have made numerous attempts to wipe it off the internet.
Last Friday, Apple and Google removed an app that features Smart Voting from its online stores for Russian users under pressure from the authorities. The messaging app Telegram, Pavel Durov, on Saturday also blocked a chatbot dedicated to Smart Voting. YouTube also blocked access to several videos listing the candidates endorsed by Smart Voting.