Russia's Parliamentary Election Was "Not Fair" – OSCE

Other News Materials 3 December 2007 15:37 (UTC +04:00)

( RTTNews ) - A joint team of foreign observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - OSCE and the Council of Europe has said that Russia's parliamentary election won by President Vladimir Putin's party was "not fair". With nearly 98% of ballots counted, Putin's United Russia secured 64.1% in Sunday's parliamentary election.

Sunday's election "was not fair and failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections", the observers said at a news conference in Moscow.

The statement said the polls "took place in an atmosphere which seriously limited political competition" and that "there was not a level political playing field".

Meanwhile, the opposition Communist's accused the Kremlin of rigging the vote, with party leader Gennady Zyuganov calling the election "the most irresponsible and dirty" in the post-Soviet era. They said they would legally challenge the result and a meeting would be held later on Monday to decide whether to boycott the new parliament.

"We do not trust these figures announced by the central elections commission and we will conduct a parallel count," Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said.

United Russia's leader, Boris Gryzlov, acknowledged there had been some violations but dismissed them as insignificant. "They in no way put in doubt the final result. The fact that these violations have been registered shows that we have a transparent ballot," he said.

However, the electoral commission dismissed opposition allegations of fraud. The chairman of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, told Russian television he knew of "no serious violations in the course of polling day".

The OSCE in Europe, regarded in the West as the most authoritative election monitor, had abandoned its plans to send a big team of election observers, accusing Moscow of imposing curbs and delaying visas, a claimed rejected by the Russians.

Only a much smaller group of MPs from the OSCE's parliamentary assembly had attended the election, leaving some 330 foreign monitors covering nearly 100,000 polling stations.