Voices at home and abroad have denounced Russia’s parliamentary poll as undemocratic, amid claims of widespread irregularities.
Opposition figure Garry Kasparov did not mince his words, telling a press conference:
“There are no illusions that what is being called an election was the most unfair and dirtiest in the whole history of modern Russia.”
The former chess champion had already accused President Putin and his supporters of “raping the democratic system.” He backed up his claims by showing a video, purportedly demonstrating ballot-stuffing at a polling station in Moscow. The opposition Communists have also denounced alleged abuses, saying they will challenge the results in court.
Several European nations and the United States have demanded Russia probe claims of vote-rigging. Germany’s government went further, saying that, measured by its standards, the election was neither free, fair nor democratic.
Foreign observers have been among the staunchest critics. Only small delegations from the OSCE and the Council of Europe were present after a row with Russia over visas and conditions. They said that media coverage strongly in favour of the ruling party was among the elements tainting the poll.
Swedish parliamentarian Goran Lennmarker, who headed the OSCE team, got straight to the point. “Could I first say that our central conclusion is that these elections failed to meet many of the commitments and standards that we have in the OSCE and the Council of Europe and, by that, it is not, as we say, a fair election.”
The EU’s External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said basic rights such as free speech had been violated in the run-up to the vote.