U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for an investigation into Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Russia amid reports of widespread vote fraud and election violations, in comments a senior Russian official described as "strange."
Speaking to the foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member-countries in Vilnius, Clinton said Russia’s elections were neither free nor fair.
“Russian voters deserve a full investigation of all credible reports of electoral fraud and manipulation, and we hope in particular that the Russian authorities will take action,” Clinton said, on Tuesday.
OSCE said the contest was slanted in favor of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and cited numerous violations during the vote.
With almost all the votes counted as of Tuesday afternoon, electoral officials said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party had just under 50 percent.
President Dmitry Medvedev said the election was free and democratic.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said Clinton’s “strange” comments would “not help improve bilateral relations.”
“If there are actions from the American side aimed at supporting those who Mrs. Clinton calls 'democrats,' we will react harshly and consistently,” Kosachev said.
Earlier, Clinton said the United States had “serious concerns” about the conduct of the vote.
Clinton also said Washington was concerned about harassment of Russia’s election monitors and political sites. Independent election watchdog Golos and several political media said their websites suffered sustained cyber-attacks on Sunday.