Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov on Monday denounced the weekend parliamentary election as the "dirtiest" in the nation's history.
"There are no illusions that what is being called elections was the most unfair and dirtiest in the whole history of modern Russia," Kasparov said at a news conference, pointing at reports of massive vote violations.
Kasparov, who heads the Other Russia coalition of opposition groups, was arrested and jailed for five days for leading a protest rally in Moscow on Nov. 24. His group was not allowed to run for parliament.
Kasparov said that some activists from his group had been arrested for trying to monitor the vote. "They arrest people simply because they wanted to act as observers," he said. Kasparov pointed at one incident documented by his group in which a member of the election commission at a Moscow precinct was stuffing the box with numerous ballots. "That was just one of hundreds and thousands of violations nationwide," Kasparov said. "We fully realize that it's useless to seek the truth in Russian courts," he added.
Kasparov said that the real voter sympathies in the country appear to differ sharply from the official tally. "That explains why Putin and his inner circle were gripped by hysteria and psychosis," he said.
He said his group and other opposition forces should pull together in a broad coalition to oppose the government. Kasparov said that activists of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, which means Ours, attacked his group's office Monday. Earlier Monday, Nashi held a rally in Moscow, mobilizing its supporters to thwart what it described as a possible attempt by U.S.-backed "thieves and traitors" to mount protests and seize public buildings and squares. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman called the claim "ridiculous."