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Even before the first votes were cast, the result of the Russian elections was not in any doubt.
Amid accusations of widespread fraud, the country's ruling party, fully loyal to President Vladimir Putin, secured another victory: a new veto-proof two-thirds majority in Parliament for the United Russia party.
But the cost of securing victory increased, and the match's margin of victory seems smaller this time.
With 98% of the ballots counted, the electoral commission said Monday that United Russia had obtained almost 50% of the votes.
The party obtained 54% of the votes in 2016.
Throughout the country, multiple cases of ballot boxes full of votes were reported, sometimes captured by the electoral commission's security cameras.
A video, from the Kemerovo region, shows an election official in a black shirt standing in front of a ballot box as a hand appears behind a Russian flag and repeatedly shoves papers inside.
In another video, two women are heard laughing as they fill in an urn in what appears to be a crude attempt to alter the results.
The Russian electoral commission claims that all fraudulent votes were annulled.
But critics say thousands of incidents appear to have been ignored, such as ballot box filling and forced voting.
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Concern about electronic voting in Russia
One of the main concerns of the observers was the fact that the elections dragged on for three full days, apparently to allow voters to socially distance themselves over the covid-19 pandemic.
Critics say this makes tracking the vote very difficult.
An electronic voting system was also launched in various regions, allowing citizens to cast their vote online.
Even President Putin himself - in quarantine after members of his inner circle tested positive for coronavirus - was shown voting this way.
However, there are doubts about how it was possible, as Putin has previously insisted that he does not use a mobile phone.
According to the Russian electronic voting system, online votes must be verified with a mobile phone.
Most importantly, critics have raised concerns that online votes are easier to manipulate.
The fact that online results appear to have taken longer to count than paper votes only fueled suspicion.
It is not clear why such crude methods of vote manipulation have been employed, taking into account the measures taken by the Russian authorities to ensure that most opposition groups could not present any candidates.
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Extraordinary pressure for the opposition
While the Kremlin's most prominent critic, Alexey Navalny, languishes in a prison camp, his anti-corruption organization has been branded "extremist" and banned.
The law prevented his supporters and associates from running for office.
Some of them went into exile.
Opposition politicians who managed to run for office reported that they came under extraordinary pressure.
A candidate from the Yabloko political party in the Russian city of St. Petersburg found that two rivals had assumed his name and grown beards to look like him on the ballot, in an apparent effort to confuse voters. .
Parties behind United Russia
To bypass the restrictions and try to make a dent in the ruling party's results, Navalny's team promoted "smart voting," encouraging Russians to vote for the candidates most likely to unseat the ruling party deputies.
The main beneficiary of that campaign, and perhaps of a national protest vote, appears to have been Communists, long the second most important party in the country, now receiving a major boost at the expense of United Russia.
However, Communists, once very powerful in Russia, have been loyal to President Putin for years and there is no indication that this is going to change anytime soon.
The two parties expected to lag behind Communists - the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and A Just Russia - also tend to support the Kremlin.
At the end of a marathon election, the Russian opposition has been marginalized, even expelled from the political sphere.
This vast country remains firmly in the hands of the president who has led it for the past 22 years.