Election Is Void, Says Gorbachev
Byline: From Will Stewart in Moscow
PRESSURE grew on Vladimir Putin last night after former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev demanded the Kremlin annuls the weekend elections widely seen to have been rigged.
His call coincided with a claim that 17 per cent of the Prime Minister's victorious United Russia Party's vote had been 'stolen' from other groups in Sunday's poll.
It followed a highly organised crackdown by anti-riot troops and 51,000 police, backed by helicopters. That has seen more than 800 democracy demonstrators, including former vice-premier Boris Nemtsov, arrested in Moscow and St Petersburg. Websites and social network sites were censored and state TV broadcasts concentrated on other events.
As major new protests were planned for the weekend, the country's former leader said a new vote had to take place.
'Our leaders have to admit there were numerous falsifications and rigging and the results do not reflect the will of the people,' said Mr Gorbachev, the man who brought the first shoots of democracy to the Soviet Union. …