Sep 20, 2021 - World

U.S. condemns Russia's election crackdown as Putin's party wins big majority

Putin
Putin speaks to the head of Russia's electoral commission via video link. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department condemned the Russian government's crackdown on opposition groups during this weekend's parliamentary elections, saying in a statement Monday that the vote "took place under conditions not conducive to free and fair proceedings."

Why it matters: President Vladimir Putin's ruling party retained its supermajority through a vote marred by widespread irregularities, reports of ballot-stuffing and restrictions on the Russian strongman's most vocal critics.

The big picture: Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who survived an assassination attempt by Russian security forces last year, is currently serving out a three-year prison sentence on charges that the West has condemned as politically motivated.

  • Organizations affiliated with Navalny have been outlawed and declared "extremist groups" by the Russian government. Apple and Google deleted Navalny's tactical voting app from their app stores last week after the Kremlin threatened to arrest their employees.
  • Major gains by opposition groups were erased Monday after the electoral commission added millions of online votes, a delayed count that drew calls of foul play for its lack of transparency.

What to watch: The ruling United Russia party will hold onto two-thirds of the seats in the lower house of parliament ahead of the country's presidential election in 2024, when Putin will seek an unprecedented fifth term after a constitutional reform.

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