Young supporters of President Vladimir Putin have taken to the streets to celebrate his party’s parliamentary election win in a ballot that has been heavily criticised in the West. United Russia has been given 64 percent of the vote, ensuring what observers say is Putin’s plan to maintain a powerful position in politics after his presidency ends in March next year.
Opposition groups, international observers and foreign capitals describe the vote as far from free and fair, and some claimed the results had been rigged. Putin has shrugged off the criticism. “The legitimacy of the Russian parliament has without a doubt increased,” said Putin. “Actually, for me, there is no doubt that Russians will never let their country develop along the destructive path seen in other former Soviet nations. “And this feeling of responsibility for their own country is, in my opinion, the most important indicator that our country is stronger, not only in terms of the economy and social conditions, but also politically.”
Putin has not ruled out a bid for the post of prime minister after his term as president ends. The Central Election Commission says that with almost all the votes counted, United Russia scored more than five times as many seats as the nearest challenger, the Communist Party. Two smaller pro-Kremlin parties took another 16 percent of the votes.