Russia's Central Election Commission recommends invalidating suspicious gubernatorial election results in Primorye
Russian Central Election Commissioner Ella Pamfilova is recommending that officials in Primorye refuse to recognize the results of their gubernatorial election, where incumbent Andrey Tarasenko surged ahead of Communist challenger Andrey Ishchenko in the last minute, as the region’s final precincts reported suspiciously lopsided vote tallies.
If new elections are called, acting Governor Tarasenko told the news agency TASS that he would not compete. Minutes later, however, he said he would in fact run again. Then, in a third announcement, he said he would not run in a new election. A new election would take place three months from now, according to Russian election law, said Pamfilova.
Central Election Commission member Boris Ebzeev told Interfax that his agency has doubts about the competency of election officials in Primorye, and he says federal election authorities will invalidate the September 16 gubernatorial results, if local officials refuse. "We're talking about systematic, well planned violations that led to the result that you and I are seeing," Ebzeev explained.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the Putin administration "values and supports" the Central Election Commission's position.
“In this situation, based on a number of factors that we’ve carefully analyzed, we propose recommending to the Primorye Central Election Commission recognizing the regional gubernatorial election as invalid,” Pamfilova said in a surprise announcement on September 19.
On September 18, election officials announced that 100 percent of voting precincts had reported their results, cementing Tarasenko’s victory with 49.55 percent of the vote (0.5 percent higher than Ishchenko).
On September 16, the Primorsky Krai held a runoff gubernatorial election between acting Governor Andrey Tarasenko of United Russia and Andrey Ishchenko of the Communist Party. In the first round on September 9, the incumbent won 46.6 percent of the vote against Ishchenko’s 24.6 percent. As precincts reported their results on election day, however, the challenger appeared to be on his way to an upset victory, holding onto a more-than-five-point lead with just five percent of the precincts left uncounted. But then something happened, and Tarasenko suddenly shot ahead. In this special report, Meduza explains why there’s every reason to believe that something was criminal election fraud.