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Mum On Own Plans, Russia's Medvedev Raises Voice On Clean Elections

The Russian President singles out need for “absolutely fair” parliamentary elections amid a regional vote-rigging scandal, and questions about whether he himself will run for reelection.

Medvedev during his televised speech (RussiaToday)
Dimitry Medvedev at the World Economic Forum 2011
Tatiana Mikhailova

MOSCOW – President Dmitry Medvedev has made a pointed call for December elections to the Russian parliament, or Duma, to be "open, honest and absolutely fair."

The latest statement comes amid claims of fraud during March's regional elections in Tambov, 300 miles southeast of Moscow, where Vladimir Putin's ruling United Party won 65 percent of the vote.

It is still unknown whether Medvedev himself will run for reelection in the 2012 presidential ballot. He has been urged publicly by close advisors to announce that he will stand in the presidential vote three months after the Duma election.

Though he insists his country is on the path to democratization, his insistence this week for clean parliamentary elections is a reminder that the road may still be long.

Opposition candidate, Nikolai Vorobyev has produced a report describing widespread fraud in the March regional elections. It involved allegations that election committee members had already marked ballots with votes for United Russia candidates, and taking them to the voting booths by hired ‘ballot stuffers'.

Vorobyev's claims have been dismissed as ‘politically motivated" by the head of the Tambov Election Commission, who said most of the claims of falsification were ‘fiction." The commission added that the dossier of complaints was biased, and since no one had contested the election result in court, the outcome was legitimate.

This has also been backed by the Russian Foundation for Free elections, which says the document complaining about how the election was conducted was cobbled together from the Internet, and motivated by sour grapes.

Still, Vorobyev insists his report comes from a desire to prevent such violations in the future. He added that he was upset that the principle that has seemingly triumphed was singularly focused "not on how people vote, but who is counting the votes."

Vorobyev says he has witness statements that detail the violations, which were backed by election observers, even though this testimony was not reflected in the conclusion of the election commission.

He pointed out the violations he lists in his report are only the tip of the iceberg, but photo and video evidence, which is not always easy to get, would be required to prove his claims.

Read the original article in Russian

Photo - World Economic Forum

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