A Russian radio presenter has been sacked for calling Vladimir Putin voters “primates” after he swept to victory in the country’s presidential election.
As Putin was reported to have won around three quarters of all votes cast, Rosina Budans told listeners: “I’ve been increasingly under the impression recently that I live in a country where 74 per cent of citizens are primates.”
In fact Putin’s total was 76.6 per cent of all votes cast, his best result in four presidential election victories. Observers said electoral irregularities such as ballot-stuffing and intimidation were suspected.
But Budans’ employer Radio SV, based in Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka Oblast region, took exception to her criticism.
She had also said: “Special hello to those here in Kamchatka who fabulously and beautifully stuffed ballot boxes.”
The electoral commission of Kamchatka complained to Radio SV, which apologised unreservedly.
The station’s editor, Roman Zhukov, said: “Freedom of speech is not freedom to insult and accuse indiscriminately. For the expression of personal opinions there are various web platforms and blogs.”
Some UK media outlets published videos apparently showing election officials stuffing ballot boxes with pre-completed voting slips presumed to favour Putin.
Putin had been challenged for the presidency by anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, but Russia’s Central Election Commission barred Navalny from standing, citing an embezzlement conviction.
Picture: Yuri Kadobnov/Reuters/Pool