Communist Party Members Detained in Russia as Group Sues Over Election Results

Members of Russia's Communist Party were detained by police during street protests as the group is suing to contest the parliamentary election results from online voting in Moscow.

The Communist Party filed multiple lawsuits Wednesday contesting the results of the vote, and staged two street protests voicing allegations the vote was rigged by the ruling United Russia party.

Valery Rashkin, a senior member of the Communist Party, spoke to reporters outside a Moscow courthouse about the party's decision to contest the results.

"From the tribune of the courtroom, we will spill light on all the methods that the authorities used to falsify the results of the election. This publicity, in front of the whole country and I daresay the whole world, terrifies them [the authorities] terribly," Rashkin said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Communist Party Members Protest
Several members of Russia's Communist Party were detained as the party has staged street protests and filed lawsuits contesting the results of the parliamentary election. Leader of the SERB Movement Igor Beketov, also known as "Gosha Tarasevich" argues with members of the Communist Party during a protest against the election results on September 25 in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The Communist Party, which placed second nationally in this month's election, usually toes the Kremlin's line but already had engaged in an active effort to invalidate the disputed Moscow returns. Senior party members organized street protests and joined a coalition of Kremlin critics that also is trying to annul the capital's results from online balloting, an option that was available to voters in the Russian capital and several other regions.

The moves prompted authorities to detain a number of Communist Party members—pressure typically put on supporters of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny and not the second-biggest political force in Russia's parliament.

Election results two weeks ago made the Kremlin's United Russia party the winner. United Russia received 49.8 percent of the vote for the 225 seats apportioned by parties and won 198 out of 225 seats for lawmakers who are chosen directly by voters. Together, the results gave the party a supermajority with 324 of the 450 seats in parliament.

The Communist Party came in second with 57 seats—an increase from the 2016 election. However, candidates put forward by the party lost 15 races in single-constituency districts in Moscow and blamed their defeat on the online balloting, alleging that it was rigged.

Russian election authorities have denied the accusations.

Critics pointed to a number of individual Moscow races as evidence of tampering. In those races, Kremlin-backed candidates were losing until the results of online voting came in, and they suddenly shot ahead.

The party planned to file over a dozen lawsuits contesting the results on Tuesday, but its members said police showed up at its Moscow office, paralyzing its work. On Wednesday morning, a lawyer in charge of the lawsuits was ordered to serve 10 days in jail.

Still, the party managed to file the suits later Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the Communist Party's faction in Moscow's city council, the City Duma, walked out on a session to protest the election results in Moscow.

Rashkin, who was among those who lost individual races in Moscow at the last minute, said the party intends to fight until the end.

"We won't stop. We won't be content with merely playing in court for a little and then stopping. No, this will not happen. We have stepped on the path of battling for justice, for the truth, for elections that are fair, open, transparent and competitive," he said.

Communist Party Protest
The Kremlin's United Russia party was declared the winner of the election. United Russia received 49.8 percent of the vote for the 225 seats apportioned by parties and won 198 out of 225 seats for lawmakers who are chosen directly by voters. Demonstrators gather during a protest against the results of the Parliamentary election in Moscow, Russia, September 25. Pavel Golovkin/AP Photo