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OSCE to Boycott Russian Election

February 08, 2008 11:58 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Europe’s main elections watchdog, the OSCE, will boycott the Russian presidential election next month. Putin’s chosen successor, Dmitry Medvedev, will likely win the election.

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The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has said it will not send observers to the March 2 presidential election in Russia because of “severe restrictions” Moscow has placed on the size and scope of its mission.

"An election is more than what happens on election day," said Christian Strohal, the head of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). “What is true for every election is also true for this one: transparency strengthens democracy; politics behind closed doors weakens it.”

It is widely believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to limit Western scrutiny of what the International Herald Tribune describes as an election “tightly scripted by the Kremlin.”

Putin is approaching the end of his second term, and the Russian constitution prohibits him from running for a third consecutive term. But some analysts say he will remain in charge if he becomes prime minister, a post he has been offered by his handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

The Economist writes that Putin has moved to ensure his continued hold on power. With last December’s election, rated “not fair” by international elections watchdogs, he strengthened his grip on the Duma, the Russian parliament. He has also eliminated serious challengers to his protégé Medvedev.

Speculations about the former KGB agent’s intentions were fuelled last year by highly publicized photographs of a bare-chested Putin on vacation at a mountain resort.

Russian radio talk show host Yevgeniya Albats suggests that Putin is trying to enhance his appeal among voters, another sign he is here to stay. 

However, David R. Marples, professor of Russian history at the University of Alberta, Canada, disagrees with the notion that Putin is trying to maintain his political power. He writes in The St. Petersburg Times that once Putin steps down, he will not come back.

Headline Links: OSCE to boycott election

Reactions: Russia decries OSCE

Background: Independent candidate disqualified

Analysis & Opinion: What next for Putin?

Related Links: Russia’s parliamentary election

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