President Vladimir Putin's party won a landslide victory in a parliamentary election, official results showed on Monday, but international observers said the vote was "not fair."
The Kremlin said the outcome of Sunday's election was a strong endorsement of Putin's policies. He is expected to use it as a mandate to continue shaping Russian politics after his term ends next year, although he has not said how he will do so.
The Central Election Commission said that with almost all votes counted, United Russia had won 64.1 percent of votes, nearly six times as many as the nearest challenger, the Communist party. Two smaller pro-Kremlin groupings took another 16 percent of the vote and pro-Western parties won no seats.
But allegations of vote-rigging and fraud have alarmed the European Union, which said free speech had been violated in the run-up to the vote, and the United States, which urged the Russian authorities to investigate the allegations.
The concerns of foul play could drive a new wedge between an increasingly assertive Moscow and the West, which Putin accused last week of "poking their snotty noses" in Russia's affairs.
Opposition parties and international monitors said one-sided press coverage in the campaign, heavy use of government resources to campaign for pro-Kremlin parties, and numerous irregularities during voting had skewed the outcome.
Observers from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) described the election as "not fair" in a statement, saying it "failed to meet many... commitments and standards for democratic elections".
The Communists, who won 11.6 percent of votes, said they would challenge the result in the courts.
But the head of Russia's Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, a former colleague of Putin, dismissed the allegations of fraud.
Endorsement For Putin