The local election commission said on Thursday September 20th that a regional election in Russia’s Far East will be re-run, dealing a rare blow to the Kremlin after allegations the vote had been rigged in its candidate’s favour.
The head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, stopped short of accusing the Kremlin-backed candidate, Andrei Tarasenko, of orchestrating the vote-rigging, but said that a raft of irregularities had been identified, including ballot stuffing and vote buying.
The chairwoman of the local election commission in Primorsky Region, Tatyana Gladkikh, said, “We believe that in the circumstances it is not possible to reliably understand the result of the will of the people, which means we cannot declare either of the candidates elected.”
As reported by Reuters, the new election must be held within three months of the annulled September 16th vote.
The decision to re-run the election was made after Communist Party supporters took to the streets of Vladivostok to protest after Tarasenko mounted an improbable comeback in the final stages of counting to edge out his Communist challenger Andrei Ishchenko.
Ishchenko said on Thursday he did not want a re-run, but for election officials to declare him the winner of the original vote.
Tarasenko, the Kremlin-backed candidate, said the ruling to re-run the election was fair, saying there had been too many complaints.