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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Loses to Duma in Caucasus

The Kremlin's candidate might have been pleased with Sunday's presidential election results, but the performance in getting out the vote in the North Caucasus was clearly poor by local standards.

In each of the region's seven republics, Dmitry Medvedev got more than the national average of 70 percent, according to official results released Monday. Topping the list was Dagestan, where almost 92 percent of voters cast their ballots for President Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor.

Local turnout was also well above the national average of 69.65 percent, with Ingushetia's 92 percent one of the highest figures nationwide, according to the web sites of the Central Elections Commission and regional elections commissions.

But the numbers were down from December's State Duma vote, where 98.3 percent of eligible voters went to the polls in Ingushetia, second only to neighboring Chechnya, where a staggering turnout of 99.5 percent was reported.

Chechnya also came up a bit shorter this time around, reporting a mere 91.2 percent turnout, despite a personal promise by President Ramzan Kadyrov that the figure would be 100 percent.

Yet local officials were adamant that the "Caucasus tradition" of voters turning out en masse to support the current leadership still held, dismissing allegations from the opposition and independent observers that the numbers were the result of pressure and fraud.

Isa Merzhoyev, spokesman for Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, explained the lower figures as the result of voter fatigue.

"This is a pretty heavy double load," Merzhoyev said by telephone from the Ingush capital, Magas. "In December we had elections, and now we had elections again."

Merzhoyev added that in addition to a president, voters in his republic had to elect a new regional assembly on Sunday, which contributed to the sense of election weariness.

Dzhamalya Khagarova, spokes-woman for Arsen Kanokov, president of Kabardino-Balkaria, also said the local mentality of turning out high numbers to support those in power remained unchanged. "This is our republic's tradition, and I do not see that anything has changed," she said by telephone from the regional capital, Nalchik.

Kabardino-Balkaria reported 88.8 percent for Medvedev, with a turnout of 91.7 percent. In the December elections, the republic reported a turnout of 97 percent.

Khagarova said she could not explain why the turnout fell by more than 5 percentage points.

"I am not an analyst and cannot give you an objective answer," she said.

Independent analysts said local authorities might have realized that the extreme nature of December's results undercut their standing.

"During the Duma campaign it just looked silly. Now, it looks obscene," said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst from the Carnegie Moscow Center. "They should try to maintain a minimal image."