Gorbachev calls for retake on Russian elections

Former Soviet statesman and last head of USSR says recent Russian elections not reflective of "people's will", demands re-vote.

Mikhail Gorbachev 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)
Mikhail Gorbachev 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)
Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev decried recent Russian parliamentary elections, saying they were rife with fraud and demanding a new vote, the BBC reported Wednesday.
After rallies against the election results drew thousands in Moscow, Gorbachev called on Russia's leaders to admit election fraud and said that the "people's will" was not reflected in the results. "The country's leaders must admit there were numerous falsifications and rigging and the results do not reflect the people's will," the BBC quoted him as saying.
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Gorbachev, 80, warned that public discontent with the results is growing, and that the Kremlin's unwillingness to deal with that fact will only work to "discredit the authorities" and increase protests.
Russian elections earlier in the week produced another majority for Vladamir Putin's United Russia party, albeit a smaller one than in previous years.
The main international observer mission in Russia said Monday that the parliamentary election was unfairly slanted in favor of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party and marred by apparent manipulations including ballot box stuffing.
The campaign for Sunday's election was marked by "limited political competition and a lack of fairness," observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly said.
The vote count "was characterized by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot box stuffing," the monitors said in their preliminary report.
The allegations were followed by rebukes by international leaders claiming that the elections were fixed. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that polling was "neither free nor fair", and added that "when authorities fail to prosecute those who attack people for exercising their rights or exposing abuses, they subvert justice and undermine the people's confidence in their governments."
Also Tuesday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said that "reports of procedural violations [in Russian elections], such as lack of media impartiality, lack of separation between party and state, and the harassment of independent monitoring attempts, are of serious concern."