President Dmitry Medvedev disagreed Sunday with the demands of the tens of thousands of Russians who took to the streets the day before in protest over the results and alleged fraud at the Dec. 4 legislative elections.
"People have a right to express their position as they did yesterday. I disagree with slogans and claims announced at the rallies. Nevertheless, I have ordered to check all complaints from polling stations," Medvedev wrote in his Facebook, in a first reaction from the country’s leadership to the nationwide demonstrations Saturday.
The protesters demanded to cancel the results of the vote, to allow all political parties to participate in them, to ouster the head of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov, to investigate all complaints about the vote-rigging and to have new State Duma elections.
Demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud in favor of the pro-Kremlin United Russia took place across the country on Saturday, from the European exclave of Kaliningrad to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. Some 7,000 people rallied in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg, police said.
Secretary of the Central Electoral Commission Nikolai Konkin told reporters on Sunday the results of the elections could be contested only in court.
The biggest show of dissent took place in Moscow, where police said around 25,000 people gathered peacefully in driving sleet at Bolotnaya Square, a short walk from the Kremlin. Organizers put the crowd at nearer to 40,000. There were no arrests, police said.
Experts have different opinions if Medvedev's comments can be a start of dialog with the society.
"The authorities have started dialog because elections results and situation in the country called for a dialog. There was a defiance at the rally on which the government had to react to," political analyst Dmitry Orlov said.
Political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov thinks it is early to name the president's comments a dialog.
"Dmitry Medvedev's statement has not clarified authorities' strategy on actions of the opposition. It is too early to name it a dialog," Vinogradov said.
Political analyst Valeri Khomyakov considers Kremlin's reaction as an attempt to start the dialog, adding that the check of the violations should be effectively controlled.
Members of the political parties, participated in the latest polls, told RIA Novosti they were unsatisfied with such reaction.
"The president told all participants before the elections that the polls would be fair but it turned into a farce. We have no hope that the applications will be examined," Vadim Soloviyev, head of the legal department of the Communist Party, which was the second at the elections, said.
Member of the center-left A Just Russia party Gennady Gudkov said he disappointed in president's comments as they did not meet with the tension of the day.
"Of course, the reaction is weak ... because there should be another reaction from the president. We need a vote recount in several large regions as Moscow, St Petersburg, and Astrakhan. I think the recount should be in five or six large regions," Gudkov said.
Member of the Yabloko party, which won just three percent of the vote, Sergei Mitrokhin said that Medvedev should order to initiate criminal cases on violations at the polls. After the check the only way will be cancellation of current results and conduction of new elections, Mitrokhin added.