Election fraud
Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Russia have been branded with claims of fraud.

Undercover videos have been released appearing to show widespread fraud in Russia's parliamentary elections.

The State Duma (lower house of parliament) vote last Sunday saw Vladimir Putin's grip on the presidential race weakened, with the United Russia Party just clinging on to a majority.

Yet a number of voters believe that Putin's popularity was inflated by election fraud, with videos posted online appearing to show the falsification of ballots, voting booth pens containing erasable ink and single voters filling out several papers.

One video purports to show that ballot boxes already contain several vote papers before voting begins. The cameraman films what appears to vote papers at the bottom of a ballot box and films his watch to show that the time is five minutes before the polling station is due to open.
He asks an election official if they can see the votes and they reply that there is nothing to see.

A second video shows a voter demonstrating erasable ink in the pens in voting booths.

Another video, showing the apparent falsification of ballots being carried out by the head of a polling station has led to an investigation being launched by the head of Moscow's City Elections Commission.

United Russia took the majority of the votes in the election, claiming 49.5 of percent, but lost its two-thirds majority, which had given the party uncontested power to change the constitution. The party occupies 238 of the 450 seats of the house.

This is not the first time that Putin has faced allegations of corrupting democratic proceedings. In June the People's Freedom Party was blocked from entering the elections, with the Russian Ministry of Justice claiming a number of clerical errors in its application form.

At least 300 people were arrested during protests in Moscow following the election results. United Russia claimed the results "guarantee the stable development of our state."