Local and regional elections took place in 77 regions around Russia on a single voting day on October 14. Five regions elected governors through direct popular vote, and six regions held elections to the regional parliaments.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Churov, regional and local elections have just taken place. What are the preliminary results?
Central Election Commission chairman Vladimir Churov: Yes, the single voting day is over. Almost 5,000 election campaigns took place in 77 different regions around the country, and there were almost 60,000 registered candidates. Following the election system reforms, 27 different parties were able to take part in the elections, 26 parties put forward lists of candidates, and in the final result 25 parties actually took part in the voting.
As for gubernatorial elections, which were taking place for the first time after a long hiatus, turnout was quite decent at 50 percent and higher. We expected a good turnout, as there was a lot of interest in the gubernatorial elections. The turnout was a bit lower for the elections to regional legislative assemblies, but was at a similar level to the last round of regional elections.
Vladimir Putin: It seems to me that’s always the case: the turnout is always a bit lower for the elections to regional legislative assemblies.
Vladimir Churov: As far as the results go, United Russia is in the lead, followed by the Communist Party [KPRF] in second, the Liberal Democratic Party [LDPR] in third place in general, A Just Russia in fourth place, and in fifth place – the first time with such a result – Patriots of Russia. In the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania they got a quarter of the vote and won almost a fifth of the seats in the republic’s parliament.
I should also mention the successes of some of the new parties. Newcomers such as the Communist Party of Social Justice got around 3 percent of the vote on Sakhalin, as did Right Cause, though this is an older party. The Republican Party, which has had its official registration restored, broke the 5-percent threshold in the Bryansk Region.
Overall the elections were calm. We received just over 50 appeals on the voting day, some of which were purely formal in nature.
Weather conditions in the Far East and Siberia were not the best, with snowfalls, but we made sure that voting took place even in the most remote and difficult-to-access regions. During a videoconference this morning I asked about whether voting had taken place on Cape Krilyon. The border guards there helped to organise the voting. There are not many voters out there, but all the necessary was done.
The web cameras were working for all of the gubernatorial elections, and at the regional authorities’ initiative web cameras were installed at all polling stations for the Kaliningrad mayoral election, and at all polling stations taking part in local elections in the Moscow Region towns of Pushkino, Voskresensk, and Khimki.
Acting on the requests from the regions we sent out around half of all of the electronic ballot boxes that we have, equipping 2,500 polling stations with them.
Vladimir Putin: So this technology is performing well?
Vladimir Churov: The voters like these machines because they talk too.
Vladimir Putin: And were there glitches of any kind?
Vladimir Churov: We’ve got the full statistics on that. To date, we have 27 polling stations where work was temporarily halted. At 5 polling stations the problems were mostly due to ‘human error’, things like the commission getting mixed up about which stamp to use.
Vladimir Putin: Were there any violations registered?
Vladimir Churov: Yes, our data and the Interior Ministry reports recorded a number of violations. The Interior Ministry reports give a figure of just over 100 cases, including administrative cases. This figure covers all participants in the election process: the members of the electoral commissions, above all the district commissions, and also the observers, including observers from the media.
There were around 100,000 observers. That is an approximate figure. We did not count the total figure, but we know there were a lot. There were tens of thousands for the gubernatorial elections alone. In total, nationwide, 50 people were removed from the polling stations, and in each case a report on administrative violations was drawn up.
Vladimir Putin: Could these violations affect the election results in any way?
Vladimir Churov: Not at all. I saw myself how the elections took place in towns where there were problems in the past, in Kasimov, for example, where local elections caused quite a stir during the summer, and Voskresensk, where there were all sorts of problems back in 2003. But this time, now that we have replaced the old local election commissions with new members, there were no problems with the voting.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Churov, I want to thank you and all the members of the Central Election Commission and all of your colleagues in the local and regional commissions for their work. This work is always high-pressure and requires a lot of dedication, organisation, and discipline. Your colleagues have displayed these qualities and I thank you for this.
The election results are not a surprise for me. I think they reconfirm the voters’ support for the current institutions of government and our policies to develop Russia’s statehood, and I thank the voters for their support.
I will meet with the newly elected leaders. We are in constant contact, and I will of course remind them that the public wants to see effective and energetic work from them. The main task of those elected, whether deputies of legislative assemblies or executive heads, is to resolve the tasks facing their regions and the country as a whole. People expect to see real results from their work. There are still a lot of problems, but the overwhelming majority of those elected are experienced professionals who know how to work. They now have to prove their qualities and live up to the trust the voters have placed in them.
I hope too, that they will pay attention to the demands of those who did not win in these elections. Far from all of the opposition parties’ demands are unacceptable or unnecessary. On the contrary, they have many useful proposals, and their views should be taken into account too in work together. Once again, thank you very much for organising these elections.
Vladimir Churov: Mr President, on behalf of our electoral system, let me thank you for signing the very important law enabling us to set up the district election commissions for the term of five years. Given that the election process in general in Russia is becoming more open and better organised, it will be easier for us to train the local election commissions over a five-year period. We have already introduced a testing system and will soon complete work on the procedures for establishing the local commissions. By next April, in accordance with the law’s provisions, we will start establishing these new ‘semi-professional’ district election commissions. We are very grateful to you for this law, as it was a longstanding request of ours.
We also want to thank the law enforcement agencies. We have a joke that goes: ‘the police work ideally on voting day, so let’s hold elections every day’. The police worked as well as always and there were no serious incidents. Everything went smoothly and our local election commission members felt safe. There was just one incident – in Saratov Region.
The situation in Khimki was potentially tense by evening, but there too, I was monitoring the situation and I think the police worked very well, without any problems.
Vladimir Putin: Good, this is very pleasing to hear. Let me say again that in my view, after the presidential election, this is the latest big step in strengthening our country’s statehood and putting in place the conditions for energetic and effective development over the coming years and the medium term. Thank you very much for your work.