View Full Version : U.S. Urges Inquiry Into Putin Election Landslide

12-04-2007, 07:48 AM
US urges inquiry into Putin election landslide


(Gold9472: Would the U.S. have listened to Russia if they urged us for an inquiry into the 2000 and 2004 elections?)

By Adrian Blomfield and Richard Holt
Last Updated: 8:01am GMT 03/12/2007

The US has called for an investigation into claims of vote-rigging after President Vladimir Putin's party swept to a landslide victory in Russia.

The result clears the way for the president to retain his grip on power even after he is required to step down next year at the end of his second term.

Whether he plans to do so as president, prime minister or from some other post is only likely to become apparent later this month.

The Kremlin has hailed the result as a sign that voters want Mr Putin to maintain his influence.

"Russian voters spoke in favour of United Russia, thus supporting President Putin's course, and spoke in favour of it being continued after the current president's second term ends," a Kremlin spokesman told Reuters.

The Communists, who came second with just under 12 per cent of the vote, have vowed to challenge the result in the courts.

"Early reports from Russia include allegations of election-day violations. We urge Russian authorities to investigate these claims," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for White House national security council.

The US had criticised Moscow for stifling dissent before the poll. Mr Putin replied by telling the West not to poke their "snotty noses" into Russian affairs.

Critics called the vote "the most dishonest" in post-Soviet history, outstripping even Boris Yeltsin's questionable re-election in 1996.

Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist party leader, said: "If under Yeltsin there were two ways to get votes - intimidation and ballot fixing - now they have thought up at least 15 ways to entrap and betray voters."

Although voters had a choice of 11 parties, the only ones with a chance of making it into Russia's notoriously feckless Duma are either creations of the Kremlin or loyal to it.

Even the Communist Party is reluctant to criticise Mr Putin openly - even if it is allowed to oppose the government on peripheral matters.

Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, two pro-Western parties, were allowed to take part.

Critics say this was because their failure to unite meant there was no chance of them crossing the seven per cent threshold needed to gain representation in the Duma.

Mr Putin's most serious opponents, an unlikely coalition of pro-Western liberals and radical nationalists known as The Other Russia, were prevented from standing.

Its leader, the former chess champion Garry Kasparov, was jailed for five days last weekend after being found guilty of participating in an unlawful opposition protest that police violently broke up.

"They are not just rigging the vote, they are raping the whole electoral system," Mr Kasparov said after casting a deliberately spoiled ballot. "These elections are a reminder of Soviet elections when there was no choice."

While the elections lack international legitimacy after Europe's main observer body boycotted the poll, many Russians appeared happy to endorse the president by supporting United Russia.

Yelena Parinova, an economist, said as she left a polling station: "Instead of drinking vodka we drink something healthier because we have something to live for now. For the first time we have a government we can trust."

Affection for Mr Putin is widespread, thanks to Russia's energy-driven economic boom and the censorship of much of the media.

The election campaign has been almost laughably one-sided. State television has lavished positive coverage on United Russia, whose billboards has been almost omnipresent across the country.

Some academics, civil servants and students claim to have been threatened with dismissal or expulsion if they did not vote for United Russia, while opposition protests have been broken up violently.

Many Russians believe that the loss of freedom has been an acceptable price to pay for the stability they have enjoyed in the past few years - but not everyone agrees.

"Stability isn't really stability if basic human rights are violated," said Georgy Tskhadadze, a 23-year-old analyst, after casting his vote for the Union of Right Forces.

"I don't want to live in a country where repression, the absence of freedom of speech and political prisoners are again the norm."

Russian parliamentary election by the numbers

60 per cent turnout at the election - higher than in 2003 despite widespread apathy. Critics said the figure had been inflated to add legitimacy to Mr Putin's victory.
11 parties contested the polls, including ciphers, loyalists and no-hopers created by the Kremlin.
300 observers monitored an election in a country that spans 11 time zones after Europe's main observer mission boycotted the poll. Mr Putin told Western leaders to keep their "snotty noses" out of the election.

12-04-2007, 09:34 PM
Putin seems to be a 10X better leader than Bush. People's lives are a lot better and they've got a lot more money going around in the general public.

12-04-2007, 10:22 PM
Putin and Bush are both elements of the deep state.

That either one of them should talk about the integrity of anything ever just makes me laugh.