Putin's party wins big majority in Russian parliamentary elections

Putin's party wins big majority in Russian parliamentary elections
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Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin blasts cancel culture, calls gender fluidity 'crime against humanity' Russia breaks daily COVID-19 infections, death record US, allied nations force REvil ransomware group offline: report MORE’s political party, United Russia, will retain a supermajority in parliament after an election opponents say was riddled with fraud. 

The U.S. State Department released a statement Monday morning saying the election "took place under conditions not conducive to free and fair proceedings."

With 99 percent of the vote tallied, the Central Election Commission said United Russia won nearly 50 percent of the vote for the 225 seats assigned by parties. The party also leads in the races for 198 of the 225 seats selected by voters, The Associated Press reported.

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A parliament on his side could enhance Putin's strength in 2024 should he decide to run for president again. 

Claims of election fraud grew on Monday as the results of many votes cast online in Moscow, where opposition to United Russia is relatively strong, remained unavailable to the public. Six other regions permitted online voting, and their results have already been made available, the AP said. 

While the Communist Party earned 19 percent of the vote, the sweeping victory for Putin's party was expected after few opposition leaders were permitted to run, the AP said. 

Namely, a new law bans opposition leader Alexey Navalny, along with anyone associated with him, from seeking public office. Navalny is currently serving a 2 1/2 year prison sentence for a conviction he claims is politically motivated. 

Despite this, Navalny attempted to dampen United Russia's success with a "Smart Voting" list that promoted people who had potential to beat United Russia's candidates. However, the website was blocked by the government amid other efforts to suppress its reach, according to The Associated Press. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the legal harassment of political opponents, combined with a lack of transparency in the electoral process, meant the election failed to meet international standards. 

"The Russian government’s use of laws on 'extremist organizations,' 'foreign agents,' and 'undesirable organizations' severely restricted political pluralism and prevented the Russian people from exercising their civil and political rights," Price said in the statement. 

"We call upon Russia to honor its international obligations to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to end its pressure campaign on civil society, the political opposition, and independent media," he added.