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Kremlin on Far East’s gubernatorial race: legitimacy is priority for Putin

September 19, 2018, 15:10 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Kremlin comments on the possible cancellation of the vote results in the Far East’s Primorsky Region

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© Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

MOSCOW, September 19. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that legitimacy, purity and fairness of the election, rather than victory of the candidate whom he backs is a priority, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, commenting on the possible cancellation of the vote results in the Far East’s Primorsky Region.

"The president has stated many times: for him legitimacy, purity, transparency and fairness of the election is more important than the candidate whom he backs. Putin has been saying this for long and consistently, this is his principled stance and this is an absolute priority for the president," Peskov said.

Peskov also slammed the remarks of some journalists that the Primorsky Region’s citizens showed "ingratitude" despite all efforts by federal authorities to develop the region, as absolutely wrong and incorrect. "Speaking about gratitude or ingratitude of the Primorsky Region’s citizens is wrong. The Primorsky Region’s citizens vote and express their will," he stressed.

The Kremlin supports the Russian Central Election Commission’s position on recognizing Sunday’s gubernatorial race results in the Far East’s Primorsky Region as invalid since this is in line with the goal of ensuring a fair vote, he added.

"I want to remind you the words which President [Vladimir Putin] said many times that the election’s purity and fairness is a priority," Peskov stressed.

"In this regard, what we see now how the situation develops, judging by the CEC’s statements and the statements coming from Vladivostok, no doubt, everything is in line with what President Putin has repeatedly said and on what he has always insisted," he said.

"That’s why the Kremlin certainly appreciates and supports this position of the CEC," Peskov noted.

The scandal flared up after the Communist Party’s candidate Andrei Ishchenko, who had a clear lead over his rival from the ruling party, Andrei Tarasenko, surprisingly lost in the last-minute vote count in the September 16 gubernatorial race’s runoff.

With 100% of the vote counted, Acting Governor Andrei Tarasenko, from the ruling United Russia party, secured 49.55% (253,200 votes), while the Communist Party’s candidate Andrei Ishchenko gained 48.06% (245,550 votes). Ishchenko declared a hunger strike and complained about violations. Tarasenko’s headquarters, in its turn, accused Ishchenko of vote buying.

The Kremlin continues carefully monitoring the situation, Peskov said, noting that Tarasenko will remain the acting governor in line with the president’s decree.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s Central Election Commission called on a regional election authority of the Primorsky Region to recognize the gubernatorial race as invalid saying it is impossible to confirm the real results. The CEC found out that a number of serious violations of the law were committed during the polls, including ballot-stuffing, rewriting protocols and vote buying.

The new election will be held in three months "as envisaged by the law," she said.

A runoff in three other Russian regions - the Vladimir Region, the Republic of Khakassia and the Khabarovsk Region - will be held on September 23. In case of violations, the CEC will make a decision on canceling the vote results, Pamfilova said.

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