. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Glazyev: Authorities Put Pressure on Voters

Presidential candidate Sergei Glazyev on Wednesday accused the authorities of pressuring voters across the country to show up Sunday and cast their ballots for President Vladimir Putin.

"This is not the first time that such open, cynical pressure has been exerted on people who are dependent on the authorities," Glazyev, a left-leaning nationalist, said at a news conference.

Glazyev said some regional leaders have held meetings with local election officials to demand that they make sure that 70 percent to 75 percent of all votes cast are for Putin. He said his supporters in the regions have evidence that such meetings have taken place in the Moscow region, Ulyanovsk, Samara and Nizhny Novgorod.

Glazyev also said he had credible information that the principals of two schools in Moscow have asked teachers to collect absentee ballots and hand them over.

"In this way, many thousands of people are being forced to commit a crime by the authorities," Glazyev said.

Putin is expected to easily win re-election, but the Kremlin has still reportedly been prodding governors to ensure a high turnout in an effort to lend him more credibility in his second term.

Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov said Wednesday that he expects turnout to be higher than the 55.75 percent reported in December's Duma elections. Turnout must top 50 percent for the vote to be valid.

Glazyev on Wednesday appealed to voters across the country to monitor the election and report any irregularities to his headquarters. He said he has teamed up with three other candidates, liberal Irina Khakamada, Communist Nikolai Kharitonov and Oleg Malyshkin of the Liberal Democratic Party, to send observers to polling stations.

Glazyev also said he has become a target of a muckraking campaign in mass media organizations acting on the orders of the authorities. Several newspapers and web sites have suggested that he has ties with businessman Boris Berezovsky and is a closet homosexual. In addition, the state-controlled television channels have all but ignored his campaign.

Kremlin spin doctors are taking pains to prevent Glazyev from finishing second on Sunday, a victory that could make him a leading opposition figure and a strong contender in the 2008 presidential race, analysts said.

Veshnyakov warned authorities Wednesday not to put pressure on voters. Such efforts will "backfire with a protest vote," Veshnyakov said, speaking in a conference call with 100,000 election officials across the country.

New Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov agreed, citing a case in which health authorities in the Khabarovsk region ordered hospitals not to admit patients who had not applied for absentee ballots.

"Such examples discredit the authorities and are inadmissible," Zhukov said at the conference call.

In another case, Akhurbek Magometov, the rector of North Ossetian State University and chief of Putin's campaign in the republic, gathered the residents of his native village, Dur-Dur, for a meeting at which they all agreed to vote for Putin, Gazeta.ru reported Wednesday.

Veshnyakov said his commission will open a complaint hotline.

More than 600 observers from 48 countries have been accredited to monitor the election nationwide, he added.