International

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Putin Says U.S. Pressured European Watchdog to Withdraw from Russian Election

November 27, 2007 04:33 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The election-monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says its visa applications were denied; the Kremlin's critics cite this incident as the latest step on Russia's path away from democracy.

30-Second Summary

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On Nov. 16, the OSCE announced that it will boycott the Dec. 2 Russian parliamentary election because of Moscow's obstructiveness.

The Kremlin rejected the OSCE accusation, and on Nov. 26 President Vladimir Putin upped the ante by saying that the organization had acted “at the recommendation of the U.S. State Department.”

In a related development, Russian English-language newspaper The Moscow Times reported that unnamed election officials alleged that the government issued instructions to polling officers that Putin’s party, United Russia, must receive double the number of votes it is expected to win this Sunday. How that would be achieved was, say the officials, not explicitly stated.

The results of the parliamentary elections will in part determine what happens in the presidential vote next year, when Putin will have to stand down at the end of his second consecutive term.

The Russian leader has already expressed interest in the role of prime minister. Many have conjectured that he is positioning himself to resume the presidency when he can run again in 2012.

Although Putin’s stratagems are broadly derided in the West, they cause little protest among his compatriots. According to The Guardian, a September poll found that 64 percent of Russians would re-elect the president were he able to run next year.

Headline Links: Observers boycott the election and accusations of fraud

Reaction: Russia reports on the U.S. reaction

Background: Russian democracy in question

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)

Reference Material: Russia’s 2007 parliamentary election and Russian public opinion

Opinion & Analysis: ‘In Praise of Putin’

Key Player: President Vladimir Putin

Related Links: Press freedom

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