December 2nd, 2007 05:11 EST
Russian election, Turnout high
Around 43 percent of eligible Russians have voted in the parliamentary election so far, according to the country's Central Election Commission. Several hours remain for voters in Moscow and St. Petersburg to cast their ballot, while polling stations have now closed in Russia's Far East and Eastern Siberia.
Electoral officials say compared to 2003, nearly double the amount of voters have cast their ballot.
“My entire family came to vote. We think it's crucial, because we choose our future both for ourselves and for our children. If we don’t come, who will?” one of the voters said.
“It's crucial retired people get higher pensions and free medical aid. Also, miners and factory workers should have higher salaries as their job is difficult and dangerous,” another voter added.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) officials claim the turnout across Russia is already very high.
"All election points in the Russian Federation have started their work in time. Currently we can almost certainly say that the number of Russian citizens voting this year is higher than during the 2003 election," Vladimir Churov, CEC chairman, said.
President Putin has cast his vote together with his wife Ludmila. The President was quick to vote, while Ludmila Putina took her time. It seemed she really thought a lot about who to vote for.
A representative from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observers delegation, Luc Van den Brande, said that so far they are satisfied with the technical procedures of the election and for now they have not registered any technical violations.
According to the CEC the number of observers is unprecedented, both from abroad and from local political parties, which have sent three million representatives to monitor the election.
There are about 400 international observers from different organisations including PACE, OSCE, the Shanghai Co-Operation Organisation and others.
Some minor voting infringements have been reported in Vladivostok in the Far East, but officials say they were dealt with swiftly.
The first exit polls are not to be made public until 9.00 PM Moscow time when the voting process is complete throughout the whole country.
The CEC say if they manage to work fast enough the results can be expected as soon as next Saturday, December 8. So it's possible that the new State Duma will gather and start its work before the New Year. According to the Constitution the CEC has no more than 30 days after the election day to finalise the results.
As for Moscow, voting is gathering speed. But Muscovites traditionally come to polling stations later in the afternoon or in the evening.
For the first time, polling stations have opened in Moscow's airports and railway stations, so people passing through or leaving Moscow will be able to vote. Three airports and seven railway stations are taking part.
Officials say the stations have satisfied all requirements for places for observers, security and press.