Charging Voter Fraud, Deputies Boycott Russian Duma

Oct. 15, 2009, midnight

Alleging fraud in last weekend's regional elections, Russian opposition deputies united in a Duma walk-out on Wednesday. Liberal Democratic Party members began the boycott after the ruling United Russia majority blocked debate on charges of ballot box tampering and voter intimidation. Joining the LDP were deputies from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), runner-up in the Moscow city council race, and A Just Russia. CPRF leader Gennady ZYUGANOV has demanded a parliamentary inquiry, a direct meeting with President Dimitri MEDVEDEV, and recounts where representatives of both factions are present. MEDVEDEV says the conduct of the election was lawful, and Central Election Commission chair Vladimir CHUROV called regional officials' work a success. Voters elected mayors, municipal councils, and regional legislatures, with MEDVEDEV'S United Russia claiming over 7,000 offices nationwide. A 2004 decision by then-President Vladimir PUTIN eliminated direct elections for regional executives. MEDVEDEV last month said he would not reverse this law. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which frequently monitors Eurasian elections, stopped sending missions to Russia in 2007.

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