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Russia’s weekend regional election results, in a nutshell

Source: Meduza
Sergey Ilnitsky / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

Over the weekend, Russians voted in dozens of local elections, each spread over three days. In all, the contests included four single-seat State Duma constituencies, 18 gubernatorial races, 11 regional parliament elections, city council votes in 22 regional capitals, and competitions for city government offices in 33 other cities. 

Most ballots were cast on Sunday and ballots submitted beforehand were counted as early voting. Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Oblast recorded the highest early voting turnout — almost 58 percent of the electorate cast ballots before Sunday — thanks to record-high “stump voting” (ballots collected away from polling stations, in courtyards, on buses, and even outside, using trees stumps as a workspace). 

During the weekend’s voting, the election-monitoring group “Golos” documented a “travesty of justice,” the harassment of observers, and efforts to hide in search results on Google and Yandex hyperlinks to video broadcasts from inside polling stations. Despite reported irregularities (like the arrest and threats of violence against opposition election monitors in the city of Vladimir, for example), Central Election Commissioner Ella Pamfilova said the complaints submitted to her office we “unprecedently few” — just 13, seven of which officials later dismissed as unfounded.

In most regions, there were few election surprises. The country’s ruling political party, United Russia, maintained majorities in regional assemblies and its incumbent governors held onto their seats. The party’s General Council secretary, Andrey Turchak, declared the defeat of Alexey Navalny’s “Smart Vote” strategic voting project, arguing that Russians “vote with their hearts and their minds.” In the Irkutsk region, the opposition’s hopes for forcing a runoff election collapsed after Communist Party challenger and State Duma deputy Mikhail Shchapov failed to grab away enough votes from acting Governor Igor Kobzev.

Leonid Volkov, who oversees Navalny’s regional campaigns, says candidates endorsed by Smart Vote won seats in several city councils. In Tomsk, for example, Smart Vote candidates won “at least” 16 of the 27 city council seats, Volkov said.

Text by Alexey Kovalev

Translation by Kevin Rothrock