Two Liberal Russian media outlets and an election watchdog have been victim to huge cyber attacks.
Sites belonging to the Ekho Moskvy radio station, online news portal slon.ru and election watchdog, Golos, all went down at around 5am Central European Time.
The organisations said the attack was an attempt to shut them down after they made allegations of electoral violations.
Maxim Kashulinsky, the General Director of slon.ru accused Russian authorities:
“There is the feeling that the Central Election Commission, the prosecutors and the hackers are acting together.”
Kashulinsky added that he believed his site was being targeted because it supported the Golos Project, which has an interactive map showing the places where campaign violations have been reported ahead of the elections.
The director of Golos, Liliya Shibanova, was also detained in a Moscow airport for 12 hours on Saturday, and had her laptop confiscated in what the group said was a blatant attempt to stop them from monitoring the election.
Speaking of the cyber attacks, Shibanova told reporters:
“I believe that nobody but government structures and the FSB (Security service) is capable of conducting such a campaign.”
Last week Moscow launched an investigation into Golos, as they object to the organisations western financing.
Several other independent media sites which had spoken of voting violations were also affected by cyber attacks.
Political analysts say that many regions commit violations to try to secure the highest vote for United Russia, believing that this show of loyalty will give them a bigger share of state handouts.
President Dmitry Medvedev – who will step aside to allow Vladamir Putin to run for President next year – has dismissed any talk of electoral fraud, and as yet the origin of the cyber attacks remains unknown.