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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dagestan Recounts Parliamentary Vote

The Communists looked poised to win big in Dagestan's parliamentary elections March 11, having traditionally done well in the North Caucasus republic.

But when the returns came in, the party barely missed the 7 percent threshold needed to pick up any seats, let alone a sizable minority.

Now local officials, who have been bombarded with accusations that they rigged the vote, are bending to public pressure, Communists say, and recounting ballots in some districts.

Mustapa Kurbanmagomedov, the deputy head of Dagestan's electoral commission, confirmed the recount Monday but did not specify which districts would be targeted or who would do the counting. He acknowledged that the recount may give the Communists and the Patriots of Russia party enough extra votes to cross the 7 percent ­threshhold.

Dagestan was one of 14 regions that held parliamentary elections earlier this month. The established pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, dominated, capturing 13 of the 14 legislatures. The new pro-Kremlin party, A Just Russia, captured the Stavropol region parliament.

But in Dagestan, the Communists, who remain one of the country's few opposition bastions, had high hopes. When they lost, there were suspicions of wrongdoing.

"We won no less than 40 percent of the vote," said Makhmud Makhmudov, head of Dagestan's Communist Party.

Makhmudov added that in those districts where Communist monitors had made sure there was no ballot tampering or other abuse, the party captured well over 30 percent of the vote and, in the town of Kizlyar, got 45 percent. (According to the Central Election Commission, the Communists won 40.1 percent of the town's vote.)

Election officials said the ­Communists had garnered 6.5 percent of the republic's vote. Patriots of Russia were said to have won 6.7 percent.

United Russia, A Just Russia and the Agrarian Party were the only parties that officially won seats in Dagestan's 72-member legislature, nabbing 65 percent, 11 percent and 9 percent of the vote, ­respectively.

Apparently, authorities in Moscow are taking note.

Citing "numerous falsifications" in the Dagestan elections, the United ­Russia-dominated State Duma voted March 14 for its Committee on Electoral Law Practice to investigate the elections.

One falsification, Makhmudov said, is the turnout figure provided by election officials, with 80 percent of voters said to have gone to the polls. Average turnout in the regional elections vote across the country was barely 40 percent.

Nargiz Mukailova, the deputy head of the Dagestani branch of the Patriots of Russia, said that in many districts in the republic election officials refused to share copies of the ballot-counting protocols with her party's representatives.

"Still," she said, "even with what we know from our own counting, the party gets 7.4 percent of the vote."

The recount results will be ­announced by Wednesday, ­Makhmudov said.

In the republic of Tuva, meanwhile, prosecutors opened a probe into allegations that the recent parliamentary elections there had been rigged.

The criminal probe follows local officials having canceled election results in the district for the second time -- the first time after October elections, the second time earlier this month.

Following the October elections, local election officials refused to acknowledge the victories of three A Just Russia candidates who said they had won.

In retaliation, A Just Russia lawmakers boycotted the Tuva legislature, effectively bringing the legislature's work to a halt. Tuva's governor, Sherig-Ool Oorzhak, topped United Russia's ticket in the October elections.

And last week, the liberal Union of Right Forces, or SPS, filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General's Office, saying the party had been robbed of votes in the March 11 election in the Moscow region.

While SPS officially received 6.9 percent of the vote in the region, party leaders say 4,000 ballots disappeared.

The recent regional elections are regarded as a dress rehearsal for December's State Duma elections. The Kremlin has sought to portray the still-developing political scene as pluralistic. United Russia has been cast as the center-right party; A Just Russia has been assigned the role of occupying the center-left.