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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ballot Box Rejects Medvedev’s Vote

MTAn election worker showing how to vote with an electronic ballot box on Sunday. Medvedev also had trouble voting.

President Dmitry Medvedev had trouble voting Sunday in the Moscow City Duma elections when the ballot box refused to accept his vote.

Medvedev, wearing a shiny black leather coat, tried several times to get the electronic box to accept his ballot at Polling Station No. 2,627 in western Moscow, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

The city has used electronic ballot boxes, which are supposed to automatically draw in the paper and simultaneously scan the vote, for several years.

The news agencies carried no comment from Medvedev after the ballot box finally accepted his vote.

Mayoral, regional and district elections were held Sunday in 76 of the country’s 83 regions, and the vote largely went smoothly with the exception of minor inconveniences like Medvedev’s, election officials said.

Yabloko, however, said it had observed violations in Moscow, and violence threatened to break out in a Dagenstani city after some polling stations failed to open.

An exit poll conducted by state-run VTsIOM showed United Russia leading in Moscow with 45.2 percent of the vote, followed by the Communists with 17.7 percent and Yabloko with 13.6 percent. A Just Russia had 10.7 percent and the Liberal Democratic Party had 8.4 percent, VTsIOM said in a statement. The only other party participating in the vote, Patriots of Russia, had 4.4 percent, far under the 7 percent threshold to win seats in the 35-member City Duma.

Preliminary results from all precincts were expected Monday.

Turnout was 29 percent at 6 p.m., compared with 30.68 percent at the same time in the 2005 election. Final turnout in 2005 was 34.75 percent, or 2.4 million voters.

The new deputies will stay in office for five years in accordance with amendments to the Constitution signed by Medvedev in December that expand the terms of legislative bodies from four years to five.

The elections were the first since Medvedev declared in August that “new democratic times are beginning.” He also ordered Mayor Yury Luzhkov — who heads United Russia’s list of candidates in the City Duma elections, even though he has no plans to take a seat — to make sure that opposition politicians were not hindered from running.

But a survey indicates that more than half of Muscovites believe the vote is “only an imitation of a battle” after all independent candidates with the Solidarity movement were barred and the Right Cause party was denied registration.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said “the distribution of the seats in the Moscow City Duma will be defined by the authorities’ decision,” according to the independent Levada Center.

At Polling Station No. 673 in northeastern Moscow, voters seemed convinced that United Russia would hold on to its overwhelming majority.

“I think United Russia and Luzhkov will win,” Viktor Chumakov, a writer known for defending the Russian letter ë, said after voting with his wife.

He called the elections “quite democratic” and refused to say whom he had voted for, explaining that it was “top secret information.”

Pensioner Tatyana Solovyova said she voted for Luzhkov. “I voted for Luzhkov because I have heard of him. He provides additional payments to our pensions,” she said. “But I don’t really know which candidates are better. It’s too complicated.”

United Russia posted huge billboards around the city ahead of the vote, while advertising by other parties was hard to find.

Medvedev voted without his wife, Svetlana, who cast an absentee ballot in the Leningrad region during a visit for the consecration of a Russian Orthodox church, the Kremlin said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin voted in Polling Station No. 2,079 on Leninsky Prospekt in southwestern Moscow. He was not accompanied by his wife, Lyudmila.

After voting, Luzhkov spent more than 3,000 rubles ($100) on souvenirs at Polling Station No. 157, including a straw Baba Yaga witch and four decorative plates with views of Moscow, Interfax reported. The tradition of selling souvenirs and food at polling stations dates back to Soviet times, when rare goods were sold there to increase turnout.

Only a handful of pensioners could be seen at polling stations Nos. 673 and 674 in northeastern Moscow at noon. Election workers at Polling Station No. 673, located in a school, initially refused to let a Moscow Times photographer take a picture and called in election committee officials, security guards and the school’s director. The workers only relented after a voter intervened.

About 20,000 police officers were deployed to provide security in Moscow, and no serious incidents were reported during the day.

But the Internet was not as quiet as Moscow’s streets, with hackers targeting an election-related hotline web site hosted by United Russia with a so-called distributed denial of service attack, said Andrei Przhezdomsky, a member of the Public Chamber. He said the web site was not down but was experiencing some difficulties.

Yabloko, which had more than 500 observers at polling stations, said it would lodge a complaint with election officials about multiple violations. It said 82 teachers and other school workers were forced to vote at the school where they work in the Arbat district, even though they were registered elsewhere.

Yabloko also said its observers had noticed a group of people planning to vote with absentee ballots in exchange for money near the Tulskaya metro station, and the people had moved to the Nagatinskaya metro station when security guards had approached them.

The Central Elections Commission said its hotline had received just 94 calls Sunday, including 27 from people seeking the phone numbers and addresses for local election committees and 26 seeking information about the activities of election committees. Most of the other calls sought clarification about the law and information about the vote, Interfax reported.

A total of 68 of the 94 calls came from Moscow, while 15 came from the Moscow region and 11 came from the rest of Russia, the commission said.

In the Dagestani city of Derbent, up to one-third of polling stations failed to open after authorities said they lacked law enforcement officials to maintain security, Interfax reported. Later in the day, one person was reported injured in a clash with police, forcing presidential envoy Vladimir Ustinov to make a quick visit there.

“Ustinov needed to take measures to allow citizens to use their right to freely vote,” a source close to the envoy told Interfax.

About 60 people attempted to stage a protest there, but the police “took the necessary measures to prevent gross violations of the public peace,” Interfax reported, citing a local law enforcement source.

Kavkazsky Uzel, an independent news web site, reported that the injured resident was a man who was shot in the leg by police when he tried to prevent them from seizing cameras from journalists, who were subsequently detained. The web site described the atmosphere in the city as “extremely tense.”

Chechnya and Ingushetia held their first municipal elections since the Soviet collapse. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov predicted turnout of 99 percent on Friday, despite ongoing violence in his republic. An explosion killed one police officer in Grozny on Saturday.

The attack, however, did not seem to intimidate residents, and as of 7 p.m. more than 80 percent of Chechen voters had cast their ballots, Interfax reported.