Russia dismisses foreign observers' criticism on election results

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Moscow, Dec 4 (UNI) Russian Foreign Ministry today dismissed as 'baseless' the statement by top international observers that Parliamentary elections in the country failed to meet European standards.

''There is an impression that the statement is a collection of random opinions reflecting the authors' approach to problems in their own countries rather than to elections in Russia,'' the Ministry said while commenting on the criticism by a joint team of observers of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

The joint statement by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe said yesterday's poll was 'not fair' and failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe ''commitments and standards for democratic elections.'' President of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly Goran Lennmarker said Russia's new election law, which raised the threshold for entry to the State Duma from five to seven per cent, and also cancelled 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.

''Our laws are designed to create favourable 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 Ministry said.

It also said officials from the 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.

Observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose alliance of former Soviet republics, said in a report that the Duma elections had been democratic, free and transparent.

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Vladimir Churov said today that according to the computer processing of election results, United Russia will get 315 seats in the new State Duma, the Communist Party (KPRF) 57, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) 40, and Fair Russia 38.

With 99.8 per cent of votes counted, United Russia, whose candidate list was headed by the President Vladimir Putin, won a landslide victory of 64.2 per cent. The Communists received 11.6, the LDPR 8.1 and A Just Russia 7.7 per cent.

The official results are expected to be announced on December 7-8.

Mr Putin will issue an order to hold the first meeting of the newly-elected State Duma without waiting for 30 days after the Duma elections under the law.

''I think it will be correct not to wait for 30 days under the law before the first State Duma meeting,'' he said at a government meeting.

''The law empowers the President not to wait for the date specified in the law and convene the State Duma,'' he added.

''I ask the presidential administration to draft an order to convene the State Duma for its first meeting before this deadline and begin the work together with the government,'' Mr Putin concluded.

UNI

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