action hero Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, told his fellow party officials that he's content with yesterday's national election results -- results which many in and outside of Russia are saying he had a hand in fixing. The official results for the parliamentary election have Putin's United Russia winning just under 50 percent of the vote, enough to stay in power but significantly less than the 64 percent it earned in 2007. "Yes, there were losses and they are inevitable. They are inevitable for any political force, especially for one which, not for the first year, bears the brunt of responsibility for the situation in the country." Putin told party leaders a meeting Tuesday, according to the BBC. The AP has another interpretation: "The results reflected public fatigue with both Putin's authoritarian streak and widespread official corruption in Russia, signaling that his return to the presidency in next March's election may not be as trouble-free as he expected." Also inevitable, say many observers, is the rampant fraud that took place on election day. As Reuters tells it, there were signs of ballot boxes stuffing found at 10 percent of polling stations in addition to the bizarre story of one polling official's apartment door being literally glued shut on election day to prevent her approving ballots.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. has "serious concerns" about fraud, and many Russians agree. Police detained some 300 protesters in Moscow yesterday, with calls for more protests today circulating on Twitter via the Cyrillic hashtag
#6дек ( #6dec), according to the BBC. Russians might have a hard time taking to the streets, though, given the Russian government's incongruous response to several hundred arrested yesterday. "Security forces beefed up their presence across the capital Tuesday to prevent any further protests. Moscow police said 51,500 Interior Ministry personnel were involved and it was all part of increased security for the election period," reports the AP.
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