Observers meet Russia's presidential hopefuls

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Observers meet Russia's presidential hopefuls

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With just days to go before Russians choose their president on Sunday, international election observers have been meeting the candidates.

It comes after parliamentary elections last year that drew accusations of widespread voting fraud, sparked calls for the vote to be re-run, and triggered big opposition street protests.

Tiny Cox from the Council of Europe delegation said: “If there are complaints the Russian Federation has its own structures to deal with it (sic). We are not here to judge, we are to observe, that is our main duty and we hope to do it in the same way as we did it in the parliamentary elections.”

Another observer said he hoped measures like the installation of cameras would help create a more fair voting climate.

British MP Edward Lee said: “We must believe what the presidential candidates themselves say. What they all say that they want to have free elections. Mr Putin says it, they all say it. So we assume that they are telling the truth. But the problem is, do all the officials on the ground believe the same? Or do they want to please those in charge of them.”

Tens of thousands of Russians have been training as election observers to try to prevent or limit electoral fraud this time round. The number of volunteers soared after the controversy over the parliamentary vote.