A Russia election watchdog group has refused to recognise the results of Sunday's presidential election won by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The League of Voters, an umbrella organisation of activist groups set up to monitor the March 4 poll, sited “widespread violations” as the reason for their decision.
“March 4 delivered an insult to civil society and deeply discredited the institution of the Russian presidency, the electoral system and the entire system of state authority,” said the League in a statement on Wednesday.
Mr. Putin won 63.6 per cent of the votes, but the League said the result was inflated by at least 10 per cent through falsifications, such as multiple voting, voting without proper documents and rewriting of vote totals.
The deputy head of Russia's Central Election Commission Leonid Ivlev denied the accusations and accused the League of Voters of telling “lies”. Mr. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “the question [of elections] is closed.”
However, another election monitoring group, Golos, also said Mr. Putin's result had been heavily doctored. Based on data of independent observers, Golos said Mr. Putin received 50.15 per cent of the votes.
Observers said that in Moscow, where the election was monitored more closely than anywhere else, Mr. Putin's result was much lower, 47 per cent. By contrast, in Chechnya and other regions in Northern Caucasus, where no independent monitoring could be organised, Mr. Putin received almost 100 per cent of the votes.
Monitors with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) said Russia's presidential elections were “clearly skewed” in favour of the winner.
Public outrage over alleged vote rigging during parliamentary elections in December triggered the biggest street protests in 20 years. More protest rallies have been held in the wake of the presidential elections.