(File Photo) Russian President Vladimir Putin Photograph:( AFP )
Vladimir Putin's United Russia party has been able to secure majority but its performance has been weaker that that in 2016 elections
Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party has won majority in Russian parliamentary elections. At the time when 85 per cent of the votes were counted. United Russia party had bagged nearly 50 per cent votes while its nearest rival the Communist Party had just under 20 per cent votes in their favour.
Although United Russia's performance was enough to secure majority, it was weaker than 2016 elections when it had bagged about 54 per cent votes
Elections this time were preceded by massive crackdown on the opposition.
(Vladimir Putin casts his vote online on September 17)
Putin's fiercest critic Alexei Navalny is in jail. In the run-up to the elections, Navalny's top allies were arrested while some of them fled the country. His organisation was termed 'extremist' and anyone associated was kept from running for elections.
Navalny's team had called for opposition supporters to back other candidates who could potentially defeat United Russia, most of them from the Communists, and results indicated the "Smart Voting" campaign may have had some success.
United Russia's general council secretary Andrei Turchak congratulated supporters at party headquarters on a "clean and honest victory".
But Navalny's allies said the vote was being falsified on a massive scale, pointing especially to repeated delays in releasing the results of electronic voting in liberal and opposition-friendly Moscow.
"We have rattled their political system. We forced them to either admit defeat or to falsify, in front of everyone, absolutely brazenly, without any shame. To admit moral bankruptcy," key Navalny aide Leonid Volkov said during a live stream on YouTube.
Authorities had taken drastic measures to deter the "Smart Voting" campaign, which provided lists of candidates with the best hope of denying Kremlin-aligned politicians a seat.
The campaign's website was shut down and on Friday Apple and Google removed the Smart Voting app from their stores, causing an uproar among the opposition who accused them of giving in to Kremlin "blackmail".
Sources familiar with Google and Apple's decision told AFP the move was taken under pressure from Russian authorities, including threats to arrest the tech giants' local staff.
The popular Telegram messenger also removed Navalny's Smart Voting bot, and on Sunday Google Docs and YouTube videos containing the lists of recommended candidates were blocked.
(With inputs from agencies)