On Sunday, 82 Russian regions held elections for different levels of government. Sixteen regions — including Sverdlovsk, Tosmk, and Karelia — went to the polls to elect a new governor.
Other regions staged elections for local and regional councils.
The elections traditionally attract little interest. But this year the vote is widely seen as a bell-weather for mayoral elections in Moscow and presidential elections next year.
Here are the most important takeaways from the elections so far:
— Ahead of Sunday, opposition politicians and some Russian media claimed authorities were deliberately trying to downplay the election in order to secure a lower turnout, especially in Moscow.
— On Saturday, a YouTube video appeared to show a top official in Moscow’s Novo-Peredelkino district bribing election monitors. As a result of the video, which quickly gathered tens of thousands of views, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin dismissed the official and her superior.
— The Moscow authorities “are doing everything they can to inculcate the people with electoral impotence,” the head of the Moscow branch of the Yabloko opposition party Sergei Mitrokhinsaid, complaining of a range of violations, including ballot-box stuffing. “That way the same people are re-elected and the same people continue to take up government posts, which the Moscow and federal authorities need to push through their policies.”
— Human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova echoed widespread complaints on social media that polling stations were difficult to find. “Where I live, and in many other Moscow homes, there was no information about the location of polling stations,” she was cited as saying by Interfax. “That way the voter turnout has been lowered for completely unfounded reasons.”