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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Petersburg Voters Go to the Polls

ST. PETERSBURG -- Voters in St. Petersburg went to the polls Sunday to elect a new Legislative Assembly following a campaign marked by trickery and accusations of vote-buying.

By 7 p.m., average voter turnout reached 26.73 percent, Interfax reported. Turnout of more than 20 percent is needed in each district to validate the vote.

More than 400 candidates were running for the Legislative Assembly's 50 seats.

Alexander Veshnyakov, head of the Central Elections Commission, arrived in St. Petersburg on Friday to oversee the election. He said that a number of Russian and foreign observers were on hand to monitor the vote and that they should guarantee an honest election, Interfax reported.

Preliminary results in the election, which takes place every four years, were expected Monday.

The election campaign was clouded by hundreds of fake leaflets, along with money and vodka distributed in the names of some candidates.

In one fake leaflet, a candidate demanded an end to the war in Chechnya. In another, a candidate proposed giving Kaliningrad back to Germany and a third threatened to commit suicide if not elected. The leaflets were alleged to have come from a block formed by Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, which joined forces to challenge supporters of the city's governor, Vladimir Yakovlev.

"I'm scared to think that someone can take my seat in the Legislative Assembly," said a leaflet purportedly from Mikhail Amosov, the leader of the Yabloko faction in the city's parliament.

"I've taken the firm decision to commit suicide if on Dec. 8 my electoral district doesn't support my candidacy," the leaflet said. "Please vote for me."

About 150 complaints of campaign violations were filed at the City Court, election commission spokeswoman Rita Malova said. Most of the complaints were about vote-buying and financial abuses. Some of the candidates had bought sports costumes for all the children in one district's kindergarten hoping to win their parents' vote, one complaint said.

(AP, MT)