More than 7000 polling stations opened in Syria at 07:00 am local time (same as Moscow time) on Wednesday amid tight security measures. The voting will last until 7:00 pm local time.
The Syrian Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar said that the police "did everything possible to ensure the elections are successful and in accordance with the legal standards". "We have set up monitoring centers in all the provinces to process information from the polling stations and possible complaints," he said.
The elections are being held in 13 out of 15 provinces. Raqqa and Idlib provinces under Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia) control. Refugees from these two regions will be able to vote at polling stations located in regions where they temporary reside.
The elections to the People’s Council of Syria takes place on the multi-party basis in accordance with the constitution adopted at the referendum on February 26, 2012.
250 members of the Syrian Parliament are elected for a four-year term by general, direct, and secret ballot elections.
Out of more than 11000 thousand candidates who submitted their applications, 3500 qualified for the elections, TASS reports with reference to the Syrian electoral commission.
Candidates must at least 25 years old, have no criminal records and permanently reside in Syria for at least 10 years.
A media center was set up at Sheraton Hotel in Damascus, the Syrian agency SANA reports.
US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, already said that given the current situation in Syria, "the upcoming elections are premature," Gazeta.ru recalls.
A member of the delegation of Russian parliamentarians, which arrived in Damascus, State Duma deputy Sergei Gavrilov, said that the parliamentary elections will contribute to the strengthening of the situation in Syria. "Cancellation or postponement of the parliamentary elections would further aggravate the situation and create additional risks for political stability," - he believes.
According to the MP, today "there is competition, about 15 parties are participating in the elections." "We believe that the Parliament should work continuously," - said the other member of the delegation, the State Duma deputy Alexander Yushchenko.
Earlier, the advisor to the deputy chairman of the Federation Council, deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza stressed that the decision of Damascus to hold the elections in the midst of a new round of negotiations with the opposition is due to the Syrian government's need to continue its functions, while new laws are being developed.
"On the one hand, the Geneva talks is establishing new parameters for everything: the transitory governing structure, the new Parliament, the presidential elections and elections to the Legislative Assembly. On the other hand, the current Syrian leadership understands that these parameters cannot be developed in the near future, but the government must continue its work. From this point of view, the new elections are scheduled for April in accordance with the Constitution. I am sure, there will be a certain disagreement between the parties, however, today things in Damascus and Syria should be based on tools that are really working," - he said.
US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said earlier that given the current situation in Syria, "the upcoming elections are premature," Gazeta.ru recalls.
tate Councilor and an expert of the Council on Science of the Russian Security Council, Stanislav Ivanov, commenting on the elections, expressed the opposite point of view: "This is nothing but a provocation." "How can one hold elections during the war in a country, when it is divided into at least 5-7 enclaves? The elections will be incomplete, since they are held only in the area controlled by Bashar al-Assad. Nobody holds elections at the time of the civil war, and it's not just about Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, but also about the Free Syrian army and dozens of other groups, as well as the Kurds and the Turkey Turkmans, who are not going to take part in these elections on the territories controlled by them. Of course, many territories were liberated recently [by the Syrian army], but still it is not enough to call the elections valid, and these elections will be a step away from the armistice and peaceful resolution of the conflict," - he believes.