Moscow, Jan 24 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia’s parliamentary elections held in December were “slanted in favour of (ruling party) United Russia”, says a report by election observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The report, presented by the head of the PACE observers, Tiny Kox, said that despite the fact that the polls were technically well-administered, they were “marked by a convergence of the state and the governing party, limited political competition and a lack of fairness”.
The elections also lacked “an impartial referee”, the report said.
The Putin-led United Russia party won the Dec 4 elections but critics claim there was mass election fraud and ballot stuffing in favour of the party.
Authorities have admitted that minor violations occurred during the vote and pledged to investigate them but denied claims that the irregularities affected the vote results.
“Fortunately, the president of the Russian Federation announced comprehensive reform of the Russian political system, including a drastic simplification of the rules governing the registration of parties,” Kox said, referring to reforms proposed by Dmitry Medvedev.
The new laws include proposing direct elections for governors and easing the rules for registering new political parties and presidential candidates. They will, however, come into force no earlier than 2016.
Russian investigators said they have opened 26 criminal cases into possible election violations.