Russia dismisses observers' criticism of parliamentary elections

Other News Materials 4 December 2007 10:49 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - Russia's Foreign Ministry has dismissed as ungrounded a statement by top international observers that the country's parliamentary elections failed to meet European standards.

On Monday, a joint statement by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe said Sunday's poll "was not fair and failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections."

The ministry said in a commentary: "There is an impression that it [the statement] is a collection of random opinions reflecting the authors' approach to problems in their own countries rather than to elections in Russia."

Goran Lennmarker, president of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, said Russia's new election law, which raised the threshold for entry to the State Duma from 5 to 7%, and also canceled the "against all" option and minimum voter turnout requirements, had created unequal conditions for smaller political parties, and therefore the elections could not be described as fair.

Luc van den Brande, the chief Council of Europe delegate, said the Duma polls were more a referendum on President Vladimir Putin's leadership than a parliamentary election.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the electoral legislation met the demands of the country's current stage of democratic development.

"Our laws are designed to create favorable conditions for the development of strong and stable parties that express opinions of a broad social strata... and eventually lead to the creation of an efficient civil society," the commentary said.

The ministry also said officials from OSCE and the Council of Europe did not consult other observers before making a statement to the media and did not send any official reports to the Russian election authorities.

Meanwhile, observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a Russia-led alliance of former Soviet republics, stated on Monday in a report that the Duma elections had been democratic, free and transparent.

With 98% of Sunday's vote counted as of Monday, preliminary results gave President Putin's United Russia party 64.1%, the Communists 11.6%, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party 8.2%, and the loyalist A Just Russia 7.8%.