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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gryzlov Not Satisfied With Victory

Itar-TassElections chief Alexander Veshnyakov discussing election returns on Monday.
Despite United Russia having clobbered the opposition in 13 out of 14 regions in Sunday's elections, party leader Boris Gryzlov voiced anger Monday that the pro-Kremlin party failed to make a clean sweep.

Singling out the Stavropol region, the only region in which United Russia came in second, Gryzlov said the region's governor, Alexander Chernogorov, should be fired for failing to muster enough votes.

That 15 additional pro-United Russia candidates who were not officially aligned with the party also won seats in the region's legislative assembly, shoring up the party's support, did not assuage Gryzlov.

Nor did the fact that United Russia lost to A Just Russia, which has also declared itself a pro-Kremlin party. United Russia captured 23 percent of the vote in the Stavropol region versus 37 percent for A Just Russia, the Central Elections Commission said.

"With such a result, the governor should be out of a job," Gryzlov said of Chernogorov, the leading United Russia official in the region, Interfax reported.

Sunday's elections have been widely portrayed as a dress rehearsal for December's State Duma elections, suggesting that the pro-Kremlin parties can look forward to lopsided victories at the expense of the Communists and the Liberal Democratic Party.

Preliminary results announced Monday by Central Elections Commission head Alexander Veshnyakov showed that United Russia had won 46 percent of all votes cast; the Communists, 16 percent; and A Just Russia, 11.7 percent. The Liberal Democrats, led by ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, came in fourth. Zhirinovsky said his party had won an average of 10 percent of the vote in each region, Interfax reported.

Voter turnout was reported to be about 39 percent, slightly higher than the 37 percent of voters who cast ballots in October's regional elections.

The regional elections were the first that featured the two pro-Kremlin parties squaring off against each other. While United Russia has been cast as a center-right party and A Just Russia has assumed the role of the center-left opposition, both have sworn allegiance to President Vladimir Putin, prompting criticism from democratic opposition leaders that the system is a ruse.

"We refuse to accept the results of these elections," said Maxim Reznik, a candidate from the democratic Yabloko Party in St. Petersburg, where Yabloko was stricken from the ballot over paperwork problems. "This was not an election. This was a farce."

Yabloko failed to finish in the top five in any of the four regions in which it was on the ballot Sunday.

Preliminary Party List Results
Party1st Place2nd Place3rd Place4th Place
United Russia13100
A Just Russia1562
Communist Party0752
Agrarian Party0010
Source: Central Elections Commission

Vladislav Surkov, Putin's deputy chief of staff, called Sunday's elections a victory for political pluralism. "A Just Russia competed confidently in these elections, showing that the ferocity of political battle is not waning in this country," Surkov said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Surkov added: "Any democracy is characterized by a steady list of primary players in the political field. ... The fact that four parties ran successfully shows that the political playing field has basically been formed."

A Just Russia, which party leader Sergei Mironov has dubbed "the party of the people," is widely seen as meant to siphon off votes from the Communists, who remain the country's best-organized opposition force.

Still, Communist Party leaders across the country said Monday that they were, on the whole, pleased with Sunday's results.

"Almost everywhere we could feel the support of voters, and in St. Petersburg and most large cities, we practically doubled our results compared with previous elections," Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said at a news conference Monday.

Nikolai Musatkin, who headlined the Communist ballot in Samara, said he was pleased with his party's performance, "despite all of these attempts by our enemies in the final days ... to get me stricken from the ballot."

Musatkin added: "These were dirty elections, which were won thanks to bags of money."

United Russia had $20.9 million in its war chest, and A Just Russia had $15.2 million, while the Communists had under $1 million, Veshnyakov, the elections chief, said last week.

Nearly $60 million was spent in total by all the parties, Veshnyakov said Monday.

This was about the same amount spent on the 2003 State Duma races.

The Union of Right Forces, or SPS, meanwhile, failed to build on recent gains. Its best showing was in the Samara region, where SPS won just shy of 9 percent of the vote.

In the 2003 State Duma elections, SPS failed to cross the 5 percent threshold. But recently, it had made something of a comeback, capturing 16 percent in parliamentary elections in the Perm region compared to No. 1 United Russia, with 34 percent.

But Rufil Ibragamov, an SPS candidate in Samara, said he was not terribly disappointed with the returns Sunday night.

"In general, we're satisfied, but we expected a little more, because in the Samara region we were running at about 11 to 12 percent," Ibragamov said.

Staff Writer Svetlana Osadchuk contributed to this story.