Russia's December parliamentary elections were “slanted in favor of United Russia,” a report by the election observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said on Monday.
The report, presented by the head of the PACE observers, Tiny Kox, said that despite the fact 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 December 4 parliamentary elections but critics claimed there was mass election fraud and ballot stuffing in favor of United Russia. The authorities admitted that minor violations had occurred during the vote and pledged to investigate them but denied claims that the irregularities affected the vote’s 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, including those proposing direct elections for governors and easing the rules for registering new political parties and presidential candidates, will however come into force no earlier than 2016.
Russian investigators said on Saturday that they had opened 26 criminal cases into possible election violations, pledging to make the probe just and unbiased.