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Putin crashes to shock defeat!

Yeah right.

Early results coming from the far east of Russia show that Putin has 66.5% of the vote. Communist Party candidate Nikolay Kharitonov is Putin’s closest challenger with 14.7%. Interesting to see that Irina Khakamada, the opposition candidate who got the most coverage in the Western press is running a disappointing fourth with under 5%.

For an outline sketch of all the candidates check out this BBC News article.

Remember though, that these early results represent only about 15% of the total vote, and are only from the Russian far east. The balance of voting may be slightly different in Western Russia, around Moscow and St Petersburg. I would expect Khakamada to perform more strongly there, perhaps at the expense of the Communist Party.

Finally, from ITAR-TASS comes confirmation that the turnout scraped past 50%. Some big variations in turnout across the regions though. Voter numbers were far higher in ‘rural’ districts (where turnout was consistently in the 55-65% range) than in districts with big cities. Irkutsk (49.7%), Krasnoyarsk (48.5%), Moscow (46%) and St Petersburg (a startlingly low 43.3%) all failed to hit 50%.

Update: RIA Novosti reports that 89.65% of Chechens voted in the Russian presidential election.

Update 2:, quoting RIA Novosti, tells us that the overall turnout for the election was 57.76%. The figures I mentioned above for cities are different in this article – perhaps the first set of figures were early returns, I’m not sure. The turnout in the Central Federal District (including Moscow) was 53%, and in the NorthWestern District, which includes St Petersburg, the turnout was 50.6%. Voters in rural regions still generally turned out in greater numbers than their counterparts in the cities, however.

Update 3: The count is now 75% complete. Putin’s share has gone up to 70.2%, while, contrary to my earlier prediction, Irina Khakamada’s share of the vote looks to have fallen from 4.6% to 3.8%. I really am quite surprised at this – I thought she would perform far more strongly in Moscow & St Petersburg.

Update 4: The Moscow Times has an interesting article on – how shall I put this? – some slight irregularities in the Chechnya polls.

Ziyavdi Chagayev, deputy head of Polling Station No. 403 in Grozny, said local election officials at the station had stuffed 1,986 ballots on orders from higher-ranking election officials. Those officials also dictated the proportion of votes to be given presidential candidates, Chagayev said.

“As early as Saturday, members of our commission filled out the ballots in accordance with the instructions. On Sunday we only had to stuff them into the boxes,” Chagayev said. “At our polling station, we stuffed these ballots into the boxes right after we opened.”

Now I don’t wish to cast aspersions, but someone is being really dumb here. Either its Mr Chagayev, who is going to get a real kicking from his boss for letting slip their little secret. Or its the journalist who wrote this story for being gullible enough to believe someone who brazenly admits that he’s just stuffed a ballot box with a little under 2,000 votes.

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