>> Russians are casting their ballots to decide who will hold sway in parliament. And spoiler alert, it's likely to be United Russia, a party backed by President Vladimir Putin. They're expected to easily hold onto their majority. But onlookers are also watching for claims of electoral fraud. Allegations of fraud at the last such election in 2011 spurred a mass protest movement.
Reuters Deputy Moscow Bureau Chief, Andrew Osborn, says this time some are complaining of institutional bias.>> Some members of the opposition are saying that the elections are even rigged before they have even started. Mikhail Kasyanov, for example, a former Russian prime minister, now the leader of the PARNAS party.
Says that the elections will definitely be falsified, and that officials will simply write in a much lower result for his party to ensure that they do not pass the 5% threshold. Which they need to do to win any seats in the lower house of parliament. The Russian authorities say that's completely untrue.
They say that these elections are actually the fairest in modern Russian history.>> The Kremlin has appointed someone with a human rights background to oversee the elections and given free air time to some of its critics. But the opposition has struggled to speak with one voice.>> And the opposition itself is riven by funding problems and by infighting.
For example, some of the opposition are throwing their lot in with one party, PARNAS, which they think might have a chance of some success in these elections. Whereas another party opposition has thrown its lot in with another party, Yabloko, or apple. So the opposition is split.>> Perhaps the loudest message will come from those who simply don't show.
Analysts expect a low turnout with voter apathy rife amidst an economic slump. United Russia may secure the most seats, but perhaps not with the seal of approval they're used to.