Moscow/Vladivostok: Russia's senior election official has recommended the results of a regional election in the country's Far East be annulled due to vote rigging and a new election held in an unusual call backed by the Kremlin.
Hundreds of Russian Communist Party supporters protested in Vladivostok on Monday against what they said was the brazen rigging of the election in Primorsky Region in favour of a politician backed by President Vladimir Putin.
Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Election Commission, said new elections should take place in three months if the results of the initial vote were overturned, the Interfax news agency reported.
The local election commission, which is formally authorised to overturn the vote, did not immediately comment.
The Kremlin supported Pamfilova's recommendation, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Putin had spoken in the past about "the priority of clean and fair elections," Peskov added.
With just under 99 per cent of votes counted on Sunday night, Kremlin-backed incumbent governor Andrei Tarasenko was trailing his Communist rival by more than 2 percentage points.
But on Monday, the local election commission said Tarasenko had won by just over 1 percentage point, with results showing he had received almost every one of the almost 20,000 final votes counted, an unlikely turnaround that the Communists called evidence of rigging.
Anna, 25, a project manager who attended the rally, said on Wednesday she welcomed the central election commission's call, but that it would be fairer still to recount the vote, rather than hold a new one.
"Objectively speaking this is also manipulation. The votes should be recounted, and the results should not simply be annulled," she said.