September 10, 2019
MOSCOW: Pro-Kremlin candidates have suffered major losses in the recent election in Russia following a socialist and communist-led strategic voting campaign, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.
With nearly all votes counted, news agencies reported significant gains for independent, communist and liberal candidates against those allied with the ruling United Russia party.
The communists and socialists were on track to win 13 or 14 seats, up from only five in the previous assembly, Interfax and RIA Novosti reported.
The liberal Yabloko party and left-leaning Just Russia party were set to take three seats each after having none previously.
Alexei Navalny, the leader of the opposition, hasn’t issued a statement yet about the stunning upset achieved by his partymates and coalition members. The Wall Street Journal said Navalny, 43, is ‘’the man Vladimir Putin fears most.’’
Pro-Kremlin deputies held 38 of the assembly’s 45 seats after the previous election in 2014, with 28 belonging to United Russia.
No candidates ran under its banner this year as the party is deeply unpopular. Interfax said nine previous deputies of United Russia had retained their seats but that the party’s leader in Moscow Andrei Metelsky, had lost a re-election bid.
After his allies were banned from the vote, main opposition leader Navalny put forward a “Smart Voting” plan, urging Muscovites to support those who had the highest chances of beating pro-Kremlin candidates.
Russians voted in local elections on Sunday that will test the popularity of President Vladimir Putin and his allies after a crackdown on opposition protests in Moscow.
Elections for municipal councils and regional governors took place across the country, but most attention was focused on Moscow, where tens of thousands took to the streets this summer after potential opposition candidates were barred from the vote.
Police detained hundreds of the protesters and while most were quickly released, some faced serious charges. In the week before the election, five were sentenced to jail time ranging from two to four years.
On election day, police detained several protest figures, including Maria Alyokhina of political punk group Pussy Riot and Ilya Azar, a journalist and city councillor.
The opposition has called for voters to punish the Kremlin and the ruling United Russia party at the ballot box.
“Today we are fighting to destroy United Russia’s monopoly,” Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, told reporters after voting.
Navalny’s allies were excluded from the election over alleged irregularities and he has put forward a Smart Voting plan.
It calls for voters to back the politician, whatever their affiliation, with the highest chance of beating pro-Kremlin candidates. Most of them are communists.
Analysts say the vote is a test run ahead of parliamentary elections due in 2021 — both of the opposition’s ability to mobilize support and the authorities’ willingness to tolerate dissent.
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