MOSCOW (AP) — Opposition leaders and Russian observers say they are seeing widespread violations in elections that are expected to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin.
Putin, who was president in 2000-2008, is expected to easily win the Sunday election against four challengers. But if credible evidence of vote manipulation emerges, it would bolster the determination of opposition forces to continue the unprecedented wave of protests that arose in December.
Lilia Shibanova of the independent elections watchdog agency Golos said her organization is receiving reports of so-called “carousel voting,” in which busloads of voters are driven around to cast ballots multiple times.
Mikhail Kasyanov, who was Putin’s first prime minister and later went into opposition, said “These elections are not free … we will not recognize the president as legitimate.”