The Heart of Chechnya mosque and the Kolomna Kremlin have been declared early winners in the contest to name 10 new visual symbols of Russia, although the third and definitive round of voting will continue over the coming weeks.
The two landmarks, competing in the Rossia 10 competition, each garnered more than twenty times the number of votes carried by the Penza sculpture park Legenda, which placed in third, Lenta.ru reported Monday.
Organizers say the Kolomna Kremlin, a sixteenth-century fortress in the Moscow region, just beat out the Heart of Chechnya in the second round, earning 38.6 million votes to the mosque's 38.2 million.
The decision to advance both monuments to the winner's circle could be aimed at easing political tensions that boiled over on Aug. 30, when Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, alleged cheating in the contest and said that he would withdraw his region's landmark from the competition. Kadyrov said that Chechen text message votes were not being counted when the Kolomna Kremlin made a last minute surge and topped the Heart of Chechnya in the second round's final hours of voting.
Kadyrov blamed telecommunications giants MegaFon and Beeline for depriving the mosque, named for his father and late Chechen leader Akhmed Kadyrov, of its first-place finish.
On the contest website, organizers admitted that more than 5 million votes may have been lost due to glitches in their system. They admitted that the rankings among the top thirty may have been affected, but said that every landmark on the final list deserved to be there.
The remaining 28 finalists from the second round will compete for the remaining spots in the top 10 between Sept. 10 and Oct. 6.
Meanwhile, Beeline and MegaFon have both agreed to return money to all customers who voted in the second round of the competition.