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Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

‘No Russian thaw under Medvedev’

Posted by Kris Roman on March 13, 2008

President Vladimir Putin has warned that relations between Russia and the West will not be any simpler under his successor Dmitry Medvedev.

“I do not think our partners will have it easier with Medvedev,” Mr Putin was quoted as saying.

The outgoing Russian president made the comments after talks in Moscow with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Medvedev, who was elected in a landslide victory earlier this month, will take over as president in May.

Mr Putin was sharply critical of both Nato and Kosovo as he addressed reporters after his meeting with Mrs Merkel.

As well as restating Russia’s objections to independence for Kosovo, he also hit out at Nato enlargement, suggesting that as it grew, the alliance was seeking to make itself a substitute for the United Nations.”You get the impression that attempts are being made to set up an organisation that would substitute for the UN,” Mr Putin said, warning that if that happened “the potential for conflict would only increase”.

Khodorkovsky’s future

Mr Putin also raised the prospect of an eventual pardon for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who was once Russia’s richest man, but is now serving a jail term for fraud and tax evasion.

His supporters say the case against him was politically motivated and the BBC’s James Rodgers in Moscow says many in the West have been inclined to agree.

However, Mr Putin insisted that any future decision on Khodorkovsky’s fate would lie with the new president, Mr Medvedev.

Speaking after the talks, Mrs Merkel said that relations with Moscow were always a joy, but “sometimes a challenge”.

However, she insisted that despite past tensions there had to be co-operation between Moscow and the countries of the European Union.”Germany and Russia, Europe and Russia, are interdependent. We must find a way to go forward together. There are many things to do,” Mrs Merkel said.

Course unchanged

Despite a few quips about how Mr Putin marked Women’s Day, which is widely celebrated in Russia, it appeared as if the pair had had tough talks, our correspondent says.

Germany was not impressed with the manner in which Mr Medvedev was chosen as Russia’s next president, in an election which Russian opposition groups and independent election monitors have said was not a free and fair.

Before she arrived in Moscow, a spokesman for Mrs Merkel said Germany viewed the conduct of the election critically.

But with trade ties worth $50bn (?25bn) and a gas pipeline project, the two countries know they have to co-operate, our correspondent says.

Later on Saturday, Mrs Merkel became the first Western leader to meet Mr Medvedev since his controversial win.

Referring to Mr Putin’s comments, Mrs Merkel told the incoming president that even if things would not be easier with him, she hoped they would not “become more difficult either”.

Mr Medvedev said: “I am assuming we will have a continuation of that co-operation which you have had with President Putin… You have had big negotiations and that makes my task easier.”

Mrs Merkel said there would be good co-operation with the new president and that Mr Medvedev would find “open doors” in Germany.

Mr Medvedev has vowed to continue the course of his predecessor, saying he hoped to work in an “effective tandem” with Mr Putin as his prime minister. 

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Medvedev wins 70.28% at Russian presidential elections – results

Posted by Kris Roman on March 10, 2008

medvedev-ruskaart-kreml.jpg Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) announced the official results Friday of the March 2 presidential elections with Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev gaining 70.28% of the vote.The commission said almost 75,000,000 people voted, and over 52,000,000 cast their ballots for current First Deputy Prime Minister Medvedev, 42, the youngest Russian leader since 1917.The results will be published in government newspapers.There are no exact results of ballots cast in favor of other candidates, but preliminary data suggest that 17.72% voted for Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky received 9.35%, and the leader of the pro-Western Democratic Party, Andrei Bogdanov, – 1.3%.A deputy CEC head, Stanislav Vavilov, said voter turnout was 69.81%, or 5.42% more than during the December elections to the lower house of parliament.Europe’s main election watchdog, the OSCE, boycotted the polls stating that Russia had imposed restrictions. The head of the PACE monitoring group said Sunday’s vote was a “reflection of the will of the electorate, whose democratic potential unfortunately has not been tapped.”Andreas Gross also said unequal access to media put into question the overall fairness of the vote, adding the election “repeats most of the flaws seen in the parliamentary elections last December.”The refusal by the Russian election authorities to register a number of candidates from Russia’s opposition due to ‘irregularities’ in their applications was also cited as a cause for concern by critics of the polls, as was the lack of media coverage for candidates given permission to stand.

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World leaders congratulate Russia’s president-elect

Posted by Kris Roman on March 6, 2008

Leaders of countries around the world offered their congratulations on Monday to Dmitry Medvedev on his landslide victory in Russia’s presidential election.First Deputy Prime Minister Medvedev won just over 70% of votes on Sunday, and will be inaugurated as president, replacing Vladmir Putin, on May 7.Chinese leader Hu Jintao spoke to Medvedev on the phone, congratulating him and wishing him success. Hu also invited him to visit China, an offer Medvedev accepted, a spokesman for the president-in-waiting said.The spokesman also said French President Nicholas Sarkozy “warmly congratulated” the election winner and invited him to France. “The invitation was gratefully accepted,” he added.A White House spokesman issued a statement saying United States President George W. Bush was ready to work with Medvedev and would contact him later this week.U.S. National Security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said: “The United States looks forward to working with him. It’s in our mutual interest for Russia and the United States to work together on areas of common interest such as non-proliferation, counterterrorism and combating transnational crime.”European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also congratulated Medvedev. A spokesman for Barroso quoted him as saying the next Russia-EU summit to be held this summer would provide an opportunity for the EU leaders to meet the new Russian president.British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a letter of congratulations to the future Russian president, but did not invite him to Downing Street.The premier’s spokesman said it was too early to determine the prospects of Anglo-Russian relations, and that the U.K. would judge the new Russian leadership on “actions and the results of those actions.”Relations between the two countries have been strained by issues including the murder of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006, and closure of British Council offices in regions earlier this year.A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel quoted her as wishing Medvedev “good luck and success with the difficult task ahead.”However, spokesman Thomas Steg said: “It is without doubt the case that during the election campaign situations arose where it became clear that democratic rules were not always upheld. The government made it clear in the run-up to Sunday’s vote that we regret that the international observers could not carry out their job as well as one would wish.”The election was boycotted by the main European election monitoring body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in protest against restrictions imposed on observers.The only group of Western observers to attend the polls was from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The organization called the election doubtful, citing problems with candidate registration and equal media access for candidates. However, PACE conceded that Medvedev’s victory reflected the will of Russian voters.Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference that Tokyo hoped the new Russian president would work to solve a long-running territorial dispute with Japan.”We hope the new president will come up with a solid solution to the Northern Territories [South Kurils] issue so that Japan-Russia relations will be rebuilt to reach an upgraded dimension,” Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik welcomed Medvedev’s election as president, saying he “so far has shown a clear understanding of interweaving and interdependence of international economic relations.”Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema said he had sent a congratulatory letter to Medvedev.Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis also congratulated the future president.Serbian President Boris Tadic sent a telegram congratulating Medvedev and saying: “Serbia will always be a reliable friend and partner for Russia,” his press service said.Finnish President Tarja Halonen telephoned the future president to congratulate him, and invited him to visit Finland.

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Medvedev holds commanding lead

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

Dmitry Medvedev is shaping as Russia’s next president according to early results from Sunday’s election. The Central Election Commission says he’s gained 69.9% of votes, with 86% counted so far. His closest rival, Communist Gennady Zyuganov, has won just 18%.

Liberal Democrat Vladimir Zhirinovsky is in third with 9.6% and Democratic Party leader Andrey Bogdanov has 1.3%. Official preliminary results will be released at 10am Moscow time (7am GMT).The final results will be announced on March 7 and two months after that, on May 7, the next Russian president will be sworn in.Vladimir Putin congratulated Dmitry Medvedev on his clear lead when the two appeared onstage at a live concert by the Kremlin walls in central Moscow.The 42-year-old Medvedev thanked voters. “It is a special day. And despite the bad weather it is a special day in the life of our country. We are choosing our way for many years. And we have a chance to continue develop as we have been doing in the recent years, make our country more stable, improve the quality of life, move forward using the plan that we’ve been using all these years. I’m completely sure that we must choose this path – and we’ve got all the opportunities we need. And today’s election – in which you have taken part – and I want to thank everyone who has voted for me!” he said.

ПодписьMedvedev’s supporters celebrating, 
Red Square, Moscow 

Speaking to journalists at his headquarters, Dmitry Medvedev said that in the nearest two months he “would like to participate in forming the executive power in our country”. “It’s an important and difficult task requiring much work. And I do hope that during these two months I will be able to do this. I will work along with Vladimir Putin as future Prime Minister, and Ii hope that as a result of this work we will have an efficient fully-fledged executive power,” he said.As for the course he would like to take, Medvedev said “it will be a direct continuation of the path chosen by President Putin”. “Foreign policy, according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, is determined by the president. We must have an independent foreign policy – the policy that we’ve had in the last eight years, the essence of which is the protection of Russian interests,”he said.  To watch the full version of the media briefing, please follow the link. The reactions from the other candidates have been a mixture of anger, bitterness and resignation. “I don’t accept Medvedev’s victory. This is the result that they’ve planned and managed to get. Some regions show an unbelievable result for Medvedev up to 97% and it’s a fake. I don’t want to work this way. It’s humiliating for the country, for its citizens and for the Central Election Commission,” said Gennady Zyuganov.“I’m not satisfied. How can I be satisfied with these 12%? I’m sure more people voted for me, three times more, 30-36% should be my figure,” Vladimir Zhirinovsky said.Andrey Bogdanov says he hasn’t noticed significant violations of the election process.“I’m satisfied with my result. I can say that neither the Democratic Party, nor I have any significant criticism of the election process. There have been minor violations which can hardly be called such,” said Andrey Bogdanov.Around 100 million Russians were eligible to vote at around 100,000 polling stations. Just hours after the voting kicked off nationwide Russia’s Central Election Committee stated that it expected an even higher turn out than last time.     “The average turnout in all regions is three to five percent higher, compared to the parliamentary polls in December and the presidential election in 2004,” the chairman of Central Election Committee, Vladimir Churov said.More than 300 international observers, from 32 countries, were monitoring voting across Russia.One after the other, presidential hopefuls cast their votes. And despite the clear difference in their expectations of success, all seemed cheered. Outgoing president Vladimir Putin was in holiday mode when he voted.“My spirits are high. My mood is festive. It was raining when I was leaving home. My wife said this is a good sign,” he told reporters.Mikhail Gorbachev – the last Soviet leader – was modest in his rhetoric – probably because it was his birthday on Sunday, but still criticized what he believed to be a pre-determined result.”Every vote we’ve had in Russia, is a poor comparison to the one in 1989. That one was open and fair. Whilst I can’t say the same about the five times we’ve done it in the last 17 years,” Gorbachev said.  

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Russia: Elections of successor

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

     Alexei Makarkin for RIA Novosti  The presidential elections in Russia are very predictable. Everyone knows the name of the winner – First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a nominee backed by the government, and a successor of President Vladimir Putin.Medvedev is a long-standing member of Putin’s team. He worked with Putin in the St Petersburg Mayor’s Office in early 1990s, and enjoys his unreserved trust.  It was Putin who put forward Medvedev’s nomination to the public. In turn, the public that wants to see the current political and economic policy continued has delegated the choice of the next president to Putin. If Putin cannot be re-elected for a third term without violating the Constitution, he can be made responsible for the choice of his successor.The public does not want to make a mistake that may lead to new upheavals, as it happened in the 1990s, when many voters were hugely disappointed in their recent idol Boris Yeltsin. In this respect, Russian electorate contrasts sharply with Western voters. This situation may change in mid-term perspective, but not until public mentality becomes radically different.It is clear that Medvedev will score a landslide in the first round. According to the polls conducted by the highly respected Levada Center, even in 2004, 40% of Russians were ready to vote for any successor and did not bother much about the name. Now VTsIOM, an All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center, predicts that Medvedev will receive 75% of votes.But the choice of successor is not the only factor that determines the situation. Medvedev’s rivals are obviously weak. Two of them, the Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and the head of the populist Liberal-Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have long lost any hope of victory. Many of their voters are also pessimistic. This will be the third time that Zyuganov takes part in the elections, and the fourth try for Zhirinovsky. Neither of them presents any danger to the government.They are vying for the second place. If Zhirinovsky wins over Zyuganov, the Communists may change their eternal leader, who has headed the party since 1993. The fourth candidate, Andrei Bogdanov, is purely technical. His participation guarantees that the elections will take place in any event, even if Medvedev’s two other rivals withdraw from the race (by law, for the elections to take place, there have to be at least two candidates).The Central Election Commission has barred Liberal candidate Mikhail Kasyanov, former prime minister, from the elections because he failed to collect the required number of signatures. But his possible participation wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the elections. All sociological centers estimated his votes at no more than two percent. Kasyanov could have lashed out at the authorities, thereby complicating the smooth run of the election campaign, but this is about all.Since the results of the elections are predetermined, we can already discuss Russia’s post-election prospects. Putin is likely to retain his substantial influence on political and economic processes. He has already announced his readiness to become prime minister. His speech at a State Council session earlier this month shows that he is not going to limit himself to strictly tactical functions of the head of government. Setting the ambitious aim of making Russia one of the world’s most advanced countries, Putin has proposed a strategy of national development up to 2020.To all appearances, Russia will have a diarchy, under which the prime minister will have much more authorities than before. There is no need to make amendments to the Constitution – it will be enough to change political practice for a new alignment of forces. Judging by everything, with time the influence of the new president is likely to increase. There is every reason to believe that Putin is serious about his successor, and that rumors about him being a temporary figure are groundless.Medvedev is a lawyer who specializes in civic law; he has never worked in secret services, and stands for the market economy and contacts with the West. Putin has chosen him as his successor with good reason. The Russian authorities, like any other, want to protect effectively the interests of their own country. It would be an illusion to think that the new president will pursue a pro-Western line.Needless to say a moderate liberal like Medvedev will not initiative a conflict with the West; he will not conduct a great-power policy, step up the arms race, or make friends with “rogue” countries. Now it is up to the United States and Europe to decide whether they want to develop positive relations with the new Russian president, or follow the logic of confrontation. 

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Medvedev cruises to victory in Russian presidential elections

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

     With some 70% of the ballots counted in Russia’s presidential elections, Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev has gained 69.22%, enough to give him victory in the first round of voting.His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, was on 18.26%. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky had 9.96% of the vote and the leader of the tiny, pro-Western Democratic Party, Andrey Bogdanov, – 1.29%, according to Central Election Commission figures.’DIRECT CONTINUATION’ OF PUTIN ERA AHEADAs he cruised to victory in Russia’s presidential polls, Dmitry Medvedev said his presidency would be a “direct continuation” of the policies of the man who had backed him to lead the largest country on Earth.Speaking to journalists at a news conference, Medvedev said that his presidential program would be “the path chosen by our country eight years ago.”This path was, he clarified, the one “being followed by President Putin.”Russian First Deputy Premier Medvedev was publicly backed by Vladimir Putin as his successor in mid-December, and was later nominated by the ruling United Russia party as a presidential candidate.Putin later announced that he would take up an offer by Medvedev to become prime minister if his ‘heir’ were to win the presidency.Many political analysts suggested that Medvedev would struggle to make an impact as president with Putin as premier, and there were also suggestions that a change in the Constitution may give Putin more power.However, Medvedev seemed to rule this out on Monday, saying that, “According to the structure of authority, the president has his own powers and the head of government his own. This is derived from the Constitution and the law. No one is proposing to change this.”Medvedev also said that in the period before his inauguration as president, set for May 7, he would like to work, “in tandem with the future premier, Vladimir Putin…on the configuration of the executive branch of government.”PUTIN’S CONGRATULATIONSPresident Putin had earlier congratulated Medvedev on a firm lead in the presidential elections during an election concert in Red Square on Sunday evening.”The elections for the president of the Russian Federation have taken place. Our candidate has a firm lead,” said Putin.”I congratulate Dmitry Medvedev and wish him luck,” said Putin.Putin also said that the vote had been carried out in “strict accordance with the Constitution.””I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, and also those who voted for other candidates,” said Medvedev. “Together we represent almost two-thirds of our country.”‘This means we are not indifferent to our future, this means we can continue the path proposed by Vladimir Putin,” he went on.”Together we will move further forward, together we will achieve victory!” he announced to the crowd.RUMBLES OF DISCONTENTAs results came in, both Gennady Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky hinted that they may contest the results of the polls in the courts.The Communist Party complained of a mass infringement of voting regulations, with the secretary of the party’s central committee, Valery Rashkin, speaking to journalists of “impudence” on behalf of the authorities.”We’ve never seen this sort of impudence before…This is a new era,” he said.He added that the Communist party had noted voting violations in many Russian cities, including Saint Petersburg.Vladimir Zhirinovsky also spoke of his intention to dispute the results of the poll in court.Answering a question from journalists as to whether he would go to court over the results of Sunday’s polls, Zhirinovsky replied, “We’ve always gone to court – without result. We’ll go to court this time as well.””The best indication of how Russia voted will be clear tomorrow…All Russia’s 109 million citizens [eligible voters] will go to work tomorrow with gloomy faces. Everyone voted with gloomy faces today. There wasn’t a smile to be seen,” he added.The Russian Central Election Commission said, however, that the polls had taken place without serious violations.Answering a question as to whether the Central Election Commission would be ready to go to court if a case was brought by either Zyuganov or Zhirinovsky, the head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, said, “We’ll see. If they go to court, we’ll see.”He added that the Central Election Commission had a 100% victory rate in Russian courts.Many Western observers, including the OSCE’s main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors however.Critics also pointed to pressure on voters to cast their ballots, especially employees of state-run organizations. The refusal of the Russian election authorities to register a number of candidates from Russia’s opposition due to ‘irregularities’ in their applications was also cited, as was the lack of media coverage of the candidates given permission to stand.A CIS election monitoring mission said the elections had been held in full accordance with the law. The CIS is an alliance of a number of former Soviet republics.Election monitors from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have yet to comment on the polls.

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Medvedev presidency to be ‘direct continuation’ of Putin era

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

     As he cruised to victory in Russia’s presidential polls, Dmitry Medvedev said his presidency would be a “direct continuation” of the policies of the man who backed him to lead the largest country on Earth.Medvedev has so far received 69.22% of the vote with 70% of the ballots counted in Russia’s presidential polls, according to Central Election Commission data. His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, is on 18.26%.Speaking to journalists at a news conference, Medvedev said that his presidential program would be “the path chosen by our country eight years ago.”This path was, he clarified, the one “being followed by President Putin.”Russian First Deputy Premier Medvedev was publicly backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as his successor in mid-December, and was later nominated by the ruling United Russia party as a presidential candidate.Putin later announced that he would take up an offer by Medvedev to become prime minister if his ‘heir’ were to win the presidency.Many political analysts suggested that Medvedev would struggle to make an impact as president with Putin as premier, and there were also suggestions that a change in the Constitution may give Putin more power.However, Medvedev seemed to rule this out on Monday, saying that, “According to the structure of authority, the president has his own powers and the head of government his own. This is derived from the Constitution and the law. No one is proposing to change this.”The inauguration of Russia’s new president is set for May 7.Many Western observers, including the OSCE’s main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors, however.Critics also pointed to pressure on voters to cast their ballots, especially employees of state-run organizations. The refusal of the Russian election authorities to register a number of candidates from Russia’s opposition due to ‘irregularities’ in their applications was also cited, as was the lack of media coverage of the candidates given permission to stand.A CIS election monitoring mission said the elections had been held in full accordance with the law. The CIS is an alliance of a number of former Soviet republics.Election monitors from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have yet to comment on the polls. 

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Putin congratulates Medvedev on election ‘victory’

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

     President Putin has congratulated the man he publicly-backed to succeed him as Russian leader on a firm lead in Sunday’s presidential elections.”The elections for the president of the Russian Federation have taken place. Our candidate has a firm lead,” said Putin, appearing with Medvedev at an election concert in Red Square after polling booths had closed.Russian First Deputy Premier Dmitry Medvedev has so far garnered 67.70% of the vote with 45% of the ballots counted in Russia’s presidential polls, according to the Central Election Commission.Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov has reportedly received 18.72%, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky – 10.91% and the leader of the tiny, pro-Western Democratic Party, Andrey Bogdanov – 1.39%.”I congratulate Dmitry Medvedev and wish him luck,” said Putin.Putin also said that the vote had been carried out in “strict accordance with the Constitution.””I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, and also those who voted for other candidates,” said Medvedev. “Together we represent almost two-thirds of our country.”‘This means we are not indifferent to our future, this means we can continue the path proposed by Vladimir Putin,” he went on.”Together we will move further forward, together we will achieve victory!” he announced to the crowd.The Central Election Commission said turnout was 64.23% as of 7:00 p.m. Moscow time. If results stay as they are, Medvedev will avoid a second round of voting.Gennady Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky announced they may contest the results of the poll in court, citing voting violations.Many Western observers, including the OSCE’s main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors however.Critics also pointed to pressure on voters to cast their ballots, especially employees of state-run organizations.A CIS election monitoring mission said the elections had been held in full accordance with the law. The CIS is an alliance of a number of former Soviet republics.

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Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky may contest poll results in court -2

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

Two of Dmitry Medvedev’s opponents in Sunday’s Russian presidential polls have declared their intention to contest the results of the elections in court.With around 20% of the vote counted, the Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev was reported by Russia’s Central Election Commission to have garnered some 65% of the vote. This would be enough to give him victory in the first round of voting. Some exit polls gave Medvedev 70%.The Central Election Commission said Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov had received 19.73%, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky – 12.47% and the leader of the tiny, pro-Western Democratic Party, Andrey Bogdanov – 1.53%.The Communist Party complained of the mass infringement of voting procedures, with the secretary of the party’s central committee, Valery Rashkin, speaking to journalists of “impudence” on behalf of the authorities.”We’ve never seen this sort of impudence before. This is a new era,” he said.He added that the Communist party had noted voting violations in many Russian cities, including Saint Petersburg.The leader of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party also spoke of his intention to argue the results of the poll in court.Answering a question from journalists as to whether he would go to court over the results of Sunday’s polls, Zhirinovsky replied, “We’ve always gone to court – without result. We’ll go to court this time as well.””The best indication of how Russia voted will be clear tomorrow…All Russia’s 109 million citizens [eligible voters] will go to work tomorrow with gloomy faces. Everyone voted with gloomy faces today. There wasn’t a smile to be seen,” he added.The Russian Central Election Commission said, however, that the polls had taken place without serious violations.Answering a question as to whether the Central Election Commission would be ready to go to court if a case was brought by either Zyuganov or Zhirinovsky, the head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, said, “We’ll see. If they go to court, we’ll see.”He added that the Central Election Commission had a 100% victory rate in Russian courts.Many Western observers, including the OSCE’s main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors however.President Putin publicly backed Dmitry Medvedev and said that he would take up Medvedev’s offer to become Russia’s prime minister if his ally won the election. Putin was barred from standing for a third term by Russia’s Constitution.

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Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky may contest poll results in court

Posted by Kris Roman on March 3, 2008

      Two of Dmitry Medvedev’s opponents in Sunday’s Russian presidential polls have declared their intentions to contest the results of the elections in court.With around 20% of the vote counted, the Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev was reported by Russia’s Central Election Commission to have garnered some 65% of the vote. This would be enough to give him victory in the first round of voting. Some exit polls gave Medvedev 70%.The Central Election Commission said Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov had received 19.73%, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky – 12.47% and the leader of the tiny, pro-Western Democratic Party, Andrey Bogdanov – 1.53%.The Communist Party complained of the mass infringement of voting procedures, with the secretary of the party’s central committee, Valery Rashkin, speaking to journalists of “impudence” on behalf of the authorities.”We’ve never seen this sort of impudence before. This is a new era,” he said.He added that the Communist party had noted voting violations in many Russian cities, including Saint Petersburg.The leader of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party also spoke of his intention to argue the results of the poll in court.Answering a question from journalists as to whether he would go to court over the results of Sunday’s polls, Zhirinovsky replied, “We’ve always gone to court – without result. We’ll go to court this time as well.””The best indication of how Russia voted will be clear tomorrow…All Russia’s 109 million citizens [eligible voters] will go to work tomorrow with gloomy faces. Everyone voted with gloomy faces today. There wasn’t a smile to be seen,” he added.The Russian Central Election Commission said, however, that the polls had taken place without serious violations.Many Western observers, including the OSCE’s main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors however.President Putin publicly backed Dmitry Medvedev and said that he would take up Medvedev’s offer to become Russia’s prime minister if his ally won the election. Putin was barred from standing for a third term by Russia’s Constitution.

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RT presents: Russia’s Choice

Posted by Kris Roman on February 28, 2008

Russia's Choice       Russians from all walks of life have been giving Russia Today their views on the country’s future and the Presidential election this Sunday. Every hour until polling day, RT is broadcasting live interviews with Russia’s most prominent politicians, opinion formers, celebrities and ordinary voters.

From every part of Russia and abroad, our correspondents are discovering the burning issues and what voters expect from their next leader.     

 

 Speaking about Russia’s long-term priorities, Erik DePoy, equity strategist from Alfa Bank, said the country needs to invest in infrastructure and social programmes.

“Infrastructure is something that needs to be addressed first and foremost. The same holds true for healthcare and education facilities. And the government stands at a point when they really have to start using this money [the Stabilisation Fund],” he noted.Johnny Maglani,owner of the Uomo Collezioni chain of men’s clothes boutiques, believes Russia provides a number of opportunities for doing business. He  says things have changed a lot since the company came to Russia, where a new layer of people has emerged.       “Most of our customers are self-made successful people, and as a rule such people are demanding. They want perfection and quality, and we are able to provide that,” said Mr Maglani.

ПодписьAslan Baranets


Aslan Baranets, a journalist from the Chechen National TV and Radio Company, spoke to RT about the changes in Chechnya over the past three years, and assessed freedom of speech in the Republic.“I would describe the current situation in the Chechen Republic as the reconstruction of all areas of life,” he said.  Veronika Krashenninikova spoke to RT about Russia’s relations with the West and the right geopolitical policy for the country after Sunday’s election.She added, in light of the shifting geopolitical situation, another challenge for Russia is to build good relations with Asia, for which Russia has lots of advantages. 

ПодписьVladimir Slivyak

Eco-Defence chairman Vladimir Slivyak joined RT at 10am to comment on the biggest ecological challenges for Russia and how nuclear waste has been handled.“A lot of money must be invested into nuclear waste disposal now because in the past we did not pay much attention to it”, he said.

ПодписьVladimir Pligin

Vladimir Pligin from the State Duma Constitutional Law Committee spoke to RT about changes in the Russian Constitution over the past 8 years, and the changes in the electoral system in particular.Commenting on the new minimum threshold to pass into the Duma, Pligin said that “there are approximately 18 different parties in the Russian Federation. Previously there were over 30 of them – quite a big number. But reasonably such kind of big states have approximately five parties. That’s why I believe that 7% is rather a reasonable level.”

ПодписьMikhail Segelman

Is classical music still in vogue in Russia? Mikhail Segelman, a musicologist from Moscow, told Russia Today at 8am that the problem is “the total situation with culture is changing dramatically. People appreciate classical music but they try to concentrate on four or five main figures, speaking about composers.” 

ПодписьKsenia Kochegarova

Ksenia Kochegarova, a China expert, joined RT to share her view on the Asian influence in Primorsky region. She also spoke about the upcoming presidential election in Russia. “I expect the best out of the election, and I expect our country to become better, no matter who leads it,” she said.  
Dr. Charles Kupchan, Senior Fellow and Director of European Studies of Council on Foreign Relations, and Professor of International Affairs of the Georgetown University, commented RT on the Russian-American relations and Russia’s role in the world arena. “There is a long list of issues on which the two leaders (Putin and Bush) disagree. I think having a change in Moscow and a change in leadership in Washington will provide more opportunities to re-balance the relationship between the two countries,” he said.     

ПодписьOleg Rakitsky

Oleg Rakitsky, CEO of the Deltaleasing Company, joined RT to talk about the small businesses in Primorsky region.  “In my opinion, it doesn’t matter where a company is located geographically, it can be in Vladivostok or in Moscow – the market is big,” he said. 

ПодписьMartin Tate

Martin Tate, Honorary Consul of New Zeland in the Russian Far East was RT’s guest at 1 am. According to him, the quality of life in the Primorsky region has improved over the time. 

ПодписьAndrew Kuchins

Andrew Kuchins, a senior fellow and director of the Russia and Eurasia Programme of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, joined RT at 0 am to talk more about Russia’s foreign policy. 
“The perception of Russia in the West has changed dramatically in the last eight years because Russia has changed dramatically in eight years,” he said.Garik Kharlamov, Russian comedian, joined RT at 0 am to talk about mass culture in the country. He said that Russia has changed a lot over the past years. “We live in a new Russia,” Kharlamov noted. 

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