Russia claims foreign interference in parliamentary vote

By: AFP      Published: 07:04 PM, 18 Sep, 2021
Russia claims foreign interference in parliamentary vote
Members of a local election commission empty ballot boxes and sort ballots for the futher counting on Sunday on the first day of the three-day parliamentary election in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

Russia's elections commission said Saturday that it had recorded foreign interference in its ongoing three-day parliamentary elections.  The polls, which culminate Sunday and come after an unprecedented crackdown on Kremlin critics and dissenting voices, allow Russians to cast their ballots online.

The elections commission said that it had recorded "three cyberattacks" on its resources "from foreign countries".

"Yesterday, we recorded three targeted attacks from abroad," said the head of the commission's centre for informatisation, Alexander Sokolchuk.

He said two of the attacks were aimed at the commission's website, while a third was a DDoS attack.

"The attack was quite powerful," the Interfax news agency cited Sokolchuk as saying.

He added that "preparations" for further attacks "are underway for tomorrow."

Sokolchuk did not name the countries involved.

Russian authorities have previously claimed that Western social media platforms are interfering in its affairs by not removing information related to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. 

Navalny, who was detained in February and has seen his organisations banned and his top allies arrested or flee the country, has pushed a "Smart Voting" strategy to defeat Kremlin-aligned politicians in the parliamentary elections.

Apple, Google and the Telegram messenger app caused an uproar in Russia on Friday after they blocked Navalny's voting apps and bot, which instructed his supporters which candidate they should back. 

Critics say the Kremlin is set to retain a majority in the lower house State Duma vote through a mix of barring opposition candidates from the ballot and fixing the vote in its favour.

Russian social media over the first two days of the election has been awash in claims of ballot stuffing. 

On Saturday, elections commission chief Ella Pamfilova said that the commission has so far received 137 reports of voting "coercion".

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