Vladimir Putin had garnered more than 60% of the vote in parliamentary elections today, hailed by the Kremlin as continued popular mandate for his policies even after his term ends. Putin's United Russia party, boosted by the country's oil boom, was expected to grab a landslide victory, but opposition and watchdog groups were calling foul play well before the election got under way, Reuters reports.
Putin enjoys support for his economic policies and confrontational style, and pro-Western parties aren't even expected to make it into the next State Duma. Some 60% of Russians turned out despite sub-zero temperatures, but many believe ballot-stuffing and pressure tactics have skewed the results. "They are raping the whole electoral system," said opposition headliner and chess champ Garry Kasparov.