Russian Election Report Concludes U.S. Vote Will Be Neither Free Nor Fair
November 06, 2012
by Claire Bigg
The U.S. presidential election will be neither free nor fair, and President Barack Obama will win a second term in office thanks to an election campaign marred by violations.
That's according to a new report commissioned by Russia's Central Election Commission, widely seen as retaliation for Washington's own criticism of the Russian electoral process.
The report, released just hours before voting stations opened in the United States, was penned by a group of Kremlin-friendly nongovernmental organizations.
The current U.S. vote, it concludes, falls dramatically short of international election principles.
"Apart from the periodicity of elections, not a single of these principles is being fully observed in the United States during these presidential elections," says Aleksandr Ignatov, the executive director of the Russian Public Institute of Electoral Law, one of the groups behind the report.
The Russian Public Institute of Electoral Law is chaired by a former Central Electoral Commission official, Igor Borisov.
Critics say the report appears to be a response to persistent criticism of Russian elections from the U.S. government and Western monitoring groups.
"Some view it as an answer according to the tit-for-tat principle, and it truly looks like it," says Arkady Lyubarev, an expert at Russia's independent election watchdog Golos. "I don't believe this is a qualified study. I have very serious doubts that the Central Election Commission has specialists capable of correctly assessing U.S. elections. To monitor elections in any country, you have to spend time in that country and follow the process there."
Abuse Of Office
The report charges that millions of eligible U.S. voters are excluded from voting lists, including many former inmates and U.S. citizens abroad.
It also accuses Obama, and to a lesser extent his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, of abusing their office or positions to promote their candidacies.
"Candidates were not granted equal access to the media, particularly to television debates, which were held exclusively between two candidates," Ignatov says. "And we all know there were six candidates. The principle of open elections was not respected since there are no guarantees for international observers. In some states, particularly in Texas, even observers from the OSCE were threatened with criminal prosecution. The principle of free elections was not fully observed either; there were cases of abuse of administrative resources by the candidates' allies and by the candidates themselves, especially the current president, Obama."
The difficulties encountered in the United States this year by OSCE observers, who monitored previous U.S. elections without incident, have been quickly seized upon by Russian officials.
"It is strange why the U.S. authorities, who often accuse other countries of not being democratic enough, prefer not to notice such violations of democracy in their own country," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week.
'Worst In The World'
Russian elections chief Vladimir Churov has also joined the criticism, lambasting the U.S. electoral system last week as "the worst in the world."
Voting has become a particularly sensitive subject for the Kremlin, which has faced an unprecedented protest movement since last December's legislative elections that gave the ruling party a comfortable majority.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the fraud allegations that sparked the protests raised "serious concern."
OSCE observers said President Vladimir Putin's election to a third term in March was also marred by "serious problems."
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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