The Latest: Russian election monitor fears vote day pressure
MOSCOW – The Latest on Russia’s presidential election (all times local):
A Russian election monitoring group is warning that independent observers may be targeted by an “attack” on voting day.
Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of the independent Golos center, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the group has come under increasing pressure as the elections approach.
He said the group has registered an “alarming” rise in recent days in complaints that employers are forcing or pressuring workers to vote. He described an “unprecedented” amount of money spent on getting out the vote.
With President Vladimir Putin overwhelmingly expected to win another term, authorities are fighting voter apathy and seeking to encourage high turnout.
Melkonyants said “We are worried that there could be some kind of provocation … I fear that independent observers will become objects of such an attack.” He didn’t elaborate.
As U.S. authorities investigate alleged Russian interference in President Donald Trump’s election, Moscow has warned of possible meddling in the Russian vote.
Russian voters, observers and eight presidential candidates are gearing up for an election that will undoubtedly hand Vladimir Putin another six-year term.
The outcome in Sunday’s vote is so certain that authorities are investing in get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a decent turnout.
Candidates are barred from campaigning Saturday. Voting starts in the Russian far east near Alaska and wraps up in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.
More than 1,500 international observers are joining thousands of Russian observers to watch the vote. The government wants to ensure elections are clean after ballot stuffing and fraud marred the last presidential election in 2012.
Unlike the last time Putin faced voters, this time he faces no serious opposition movement, and has strengthened his domestic support through his actions in Ukraine and Syria.