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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reports Confuse Would-Be Voters

Confusion reigned in downtown Moscow on Sunday afternoon for dozens of non-Moscow residents, who thought election authorities had first promised and then denied them a vote.

But officials at the Moscow elections committee said the special voting facility was only for those not registered anywhere in Russia -- not for those simply registered in another voting district.

Alexei Koltsov, who lives in Moscow but is registered elsewhere, was among scores of hopefuls who turned up to vote at Polling Station No. 162, behind the Central Telegraph building on Tverskaya Ulitsa. He said he had come in response to morning television and radio reports, which said unregistered voters could cast their ballots there.

Koltsov said he was denied a vote at both the polling station and the Moscow elections committee headquarters.

"I came to fulfill my duty," he said. "It is being done on purpose so that people are not allowed to vote, and we are not thousands, but millions."

From the polling station, Koltsov said he was sent to the Moscow elections committee for a form allowing him to vote, but there he was refused "without a sensible explanation."

"A reason was not given," said Alina Khrapova, another would-be voter. "We spoke to the chairwoman, who said that the issue was not clear and that she could not help us."

"There is a surge in the turnout, but no possibility for them to vote," polling station chairwoman Serafima Dyrdina said, adding that the chief of the Tverskaya elections committee, Pavel Klyunkov, had gone to the Moscow committee office to find out what was happening.

Klyunkov attempted to fend off complaints by disgruntled voters. "I guess you have to turn to the head of the Central Elections Commission, Mr. [Alexander] Veshnyakov ... and complain about the way the elections are organized," he said.

Moscow committee officials maintained that only those non-residents who had absentee ballots were eligible to vote, while others had to go to the places they were registered or not vote at all. Only those with no registration anywhere or those living abroad were allowed to vote at Polling Station No. 162, they said.

Meanwhile, Central Elections Commission officials fielded outraged queries from a busload of would-be voters who had traveled together.

Veshnyakov said the group's complaints "smacked of a provocation." He said people were misinformed, but that the commission would look into complaints.

On Tverskaya, an elderly couple were among the lucky few who got to vote. They were not registered anywhere, having lived for the past 13 years in a city hotel.

See also Election Special 2003