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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Election Officials Share Fraud Stories

With the Dec. 2 State Duma elections quickly approaching, the Central Elections Commission geared up to fight vote rigging and campaign fraud at a meeting with regional commission officials Wednesday at its Moscow headquarters.

A commission spokesman said the event focused on fraud and dirty tactics, factors opposition parties and Western observers say have tarnished previous polls in the country.

The spokesman, who did not give his name, said the meeting was to be followed by a two-day seminar for a wider audience Thursday and Friday.

Central Elections Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov said, however, that voting fraud was on the decline. "Even the most oblivious expert will acknowledge this," he said, Interfax reported.

Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank, agreed with Churov, but said this did not mean that December's poll would be more democratic.

"There will be less rigging this time because there is much more centralization," Pribylovsky said. "The central authorities have much more control over elections and vote rigging will now happen with direct support from the top."

Media reports ahead of the meeting said the commission had compiled a list of all known instances of campaign and voting fraud in previous polls for the discussion with regional commission heads.

Prominent among dubious practices was the so-called carousel, where voters are given filled out ballots by shady workers outside polling stations and then return the blank ballot they receive inside to the workers as proof that they have cast the marked version, the Gazeta daily reported Wednesday.

In the Belgorod region, campaign workers for Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party printed 1 million fake supplements to a regional newspaper championing LDPR candidates and discrediting those from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

Zhirinovsky's party was the "champion of scandalous behavior," the document reads, Gazeta reported.

Staff at the Central Elections Commission's press office declined to comment on the existence of the document, saying only that some of the reported examples of fraud were being discussed.