Russian citizens question vote count

A new civic group that monitored Russia’s presidential election said Wednesday that it had found numerous violations in polling across the country and estimated that Vladimir Putin won much less of Sunday’s vote than reported.

The League of Voters, formed in January in an effort to make elections more honest, said its data suggested Putin won 53 percent, not the 63 percent officially reported. Although conceding its figures may have overly reflected patterns in central Russia, where it had the most observers, the League also offered specific examples of violations.

Its observers in St. Petersburg found 33 polling stations where totals were rewritten in Putin’s favor, raising an average count of 50 percent to 65 percent, said Georgy Vasilyev, a member of the League.

The Central Elections Commission reported 966 votes for Putin at precinct 109 in St. Petersburg, but an observer’s certified copy of the original document gave him only 554, said Dmitri Oreshkin, another League member.

Putin, who is expected to be inaugurated May 7, was dismissive of the report.

“There’s nothing new about this,” he told reporters. “They had said so before the election as well. There’s nothing special about it.”

Protesters have organized a series of anti-Putin demonstrations since Dec. 4 parliamentary elections set off demands for fair elections and transparent government. On Wednesday afternoon, the city granted a permit for another one Saturday, to be held on a central Moscow street.



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