International monitors said Monday that Russia's parliamentary election had fallen short of democratic standards.
The central conclusion was that Sunday's vote "failed to meet many of the commitments and standards that we have," said Goran Lennmarker, president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's parliamentary assembly. He said it was "not a fair election."
Luc van den Brande, who headed the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, pointed to a lack of real separation of branches of power, saying that the vote appeared to be more of a referendum in President Vladimir Putin's policies than a parliamentary election.
He cited an "overwhelming influence of the president's office and the president on the campaign" and said there was "certainly abuse of administrative resources" to influence the outcome. He also cited flaws in the secrecy of the vote. "Effectively, we can't say these were fair elections," he said at a news conference.
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