Russian protests against Putin_390.
(photo credit: Alexander Damianchuk/Reuters)
Joining a chorus of international criticism, French
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Monday that Russia's presidential
election was not exemplary, but added that
France stood ready to work with Vladimir Putin.
"The election has
not been exemplary. That is the least you can say," Juppe said during a
news conference in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.
been re-elected by a large majority, so France, and her European
partners, will pursue its partnership with Russia," Juppe said.
International monitors on Monday said that the election was
clearly skewed to favor Vladimir Putin, a verdict that could spur
protesters planning to take to the streets to challenge his right to
rule.Putin, who secured almost 64 percent of votes
on Sunday, portrayed his emphatic victory for a third term as president
as a strong mandate to deal with the biggest anti-Kremlin protests
since he rose to power in 2000.
But hours before protests were
planned to start in central Moscow, vote monitors from the Organization
for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) echoed his opponents'
complaints that the election was slanted against them.
monitors said Putin still had an advantage over his rivals in the media
and that state resources were used to help him extend his domination of
Russia for six more years.
Expressing concerns which a European
Union spokeswoman said were shared by the 27-country bloc, the monitors
called for all allegations of irregularities to be thoroughly
Although the observers' findings have no legal
bearing, they undermine Russian election officials' statements that
there were no serious violations.
They would also support some in
their view that elections ultimately have little real significance in
Russia; that power is something tightly controlled and divided up by a
largely stable ruling clique, as demonstrated by the 'tandem' power deal
struck by Putin and current president Dmitry Medvedev in 2008.
opponents, fearing he will smother political and economic reforms, have
refused to recognize the result, which could allow the former KGB spy
to rule Russia for as long as Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, accused of
presiding over "the years of stagnation".
Putin has already
served as president or premier for 12 consecutive years and made way for
his ally Medvedev in 2008 only because of constitutional limits.
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