“The head of Russia’s second-largest political party is alleging widespread violations in the election for a new national parliament, in which his party is widely expected to gain seats. Communist Party head Gennady Zyuganov said on Saturday – the second of three days of voting in the election – that police and the national elections commission must respond to reports of ‘a number of absolutely egregious facts’ including ballot-stuffing in several regions. The Golos election-monitoring movement and independent media also reported violations including vote-buying and lax measures for guarding ballots at polling stations.”
“The United Russia party, which is diligently loyal to President Vladimir Putin appears certain to retain dominance in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, but some projections suggest it could lose its current two-thirds majority, which is enough to change the constitution. The Communists are expected to pick up the biggest share of any seats lost by United Russia. Although the Communists generally support Kremlin initiatives in the parliament, their gaining seats would be a loss of face for United Russia. The Communists are seen as potentially benefiting from the ‘Smart Voting’ program promoted by the team of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which aims to undermine United Russia by advising voters on which candidates are in the strongest position to defeat the dominant party’s candidates” – AP.