Just hours after a weeping Vladimir Putin claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential election in Russia, monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) said the ballot had been “clearly skewed” in his favour. The BBC reports that election monitors witnessed irregularities and received complaints of fraud.
A press release on the front page of the OSCE’s website is titled: “Russia’s presidential election marked by unequal campaign conditions, active citizens’ engagement, international observers say.”
The release goes on to say:
(…) all candidates had access to the media, but the Prime Minister was given a clear advantage over his competitors in terms of media presence. In addition, state resources were mobilized at the regional level in his support. Also, overly restrictive candidate registration requirements limited genuine competition.
(…) Voting on election day was assessed positively overall, but the process deteriorated during the vote count which was assessed negatively in almost one-third of polling stations observed due to procedural irregularities.
The count so far has Putin on top with 63 per cent of the vote.
After serving two terms as president, Putin was sworn in as prime minister in 2008; he was constitutionally barred from serving a third consecutive term in office. His ally Dmitry Medvedev occupied the presidency while Putin prepared his comeback.