By Amy Kellogg (December 6, 2011)
There have been large protests and hundreds of arrests in Russia over the recent elections.
Protestors are expressing anger about the short fallings of the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev: the authoritarianism, the corruption and now allegations of election fraud.
Putin put on a brave face despite the criticisms and despite the fact that his party took a hit in the parliamentary, or Duma, elections on Sunday.
“In the next stage, after the presidential elections, is the formation of the government,” Putin said. “Of course, as we have said repeatedly, there will be a serious and significant renewal of personnel in the government.”
However, the man who kick-started the Soviet Union’s demise by opening up Russia does not give Putin’s promises much credence.
“I don’t believe that this team will assume responsibility and offer us a plan of real modernization of all political structures,” said former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Communist Party did surprisingly well in the elections, going from 12 to 20 percent.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated her concerns today about allegations of ballot stuffing and the harassment of election monitoring groups.
“As we have seen in many places, and most recently the Duma elections in Russia, elections that are neither free nor fair have the same effect. We have serious concerns about the conduct of those elections,” she said at a meeting of the Operation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Lithuania.
“Our main concern is the lack of separation between the governing party and the state. This led to a narrow political competition with a number of political parties, where a number of political parties weren’t even allowed to run in the elections,” Heidi Tagliavini of the OSCE said.
The independent election monitoring group Golos highlighted complaints of voting irregularities across the country.
It had its website hacked and was called “Judas” by Putin. The Judas reference was widely believed to be tantamount to declaring open season on Golos.
Both Britain and the United States have called for an investigation into the allegations of election fraud in Russia.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called the U.S. criticism of Russia’s election unacceptable.