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After crackdown on critics, Putin’s party set to win polls

After crackdown on critics, Putin’s party set to win polls, the vie

President Vladimir Putin’s party was set to retain a majority in Parliament as Russia on Sunday concluded a three-day election in which most Kremlin critics were barred from running.

The vote comes in the wake of an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition this year, with Russian authorities jailing Mr. Putin’s best-known domestic foe Alexei Navalny and banning his organisations as “extremist”.

In the lead-up to this weekend’s vote, all of his top allies were arrested or had fled the country, with anyone associated with his groups kept from running in the parliamentary and local polls scheduled to close at 8 pm in each of Russia’s 11 time zones.

Polling stations in the exclave of Kaliningrad will be the last to close at 1800 GMT.

 

“There is no one to vote for,” Andrei, a 33-year-old IT professional who declined to give his last name, said in Moscow.

But he cast his ballot in the “sham” elections, he said, to “at least show some kind of protest against the current government”.

The elections were also marred by claims of censorship and rampant ballot stuffing.

As voting kicked off Friday, Apple and Google caused an uproar among Russia’s Opposition after they removed Mr. Navalny’s “Smart Voting” app, which showed supporters which candidate they should back to unseat Kremlin-aligned politicians.

Sources familiar with Google and Apple’s decision told AFP the move was taken under pressure from Russian authorities, including threats to arrest the tech giants’ local staff.

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