Obama to Congratulate Putin Later

White House spokesman Jay Carney said no conclusions should be drawn from the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama has not yet personally congratulated Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin on winning the March 4 polls.

When asked whether the situation should be perceived as a certain “signal,” Carney said: “I don’t believe they have spoken yet. I’m confident they will speak. I would not read anything into it beyond the busy schedules of the two.”

Carney recalled that the State Department recognized the Russian election results, and pledged to inform journalists when Obama and Putin have a conversation.

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) certified on Wednesday Putin’s victory in Sunday’s presidential elections, in which he gained 63.6 percent of the vote.

Critics refused to recognize the polls as legitimate, citing widespread allegations vote rigging. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the election campaign was slanted in favor of Putin and that irregularities were observed during the vote. The polls triggered protest rallies.

Russia’s election chief, Vladimir Churov, called the election the “most honest, open and transparent” in the world. Putin, who will be inaugurated on May 7, admitted on Tuesday that irregularities had taken place and called for a probe.

Putin was Russia’s president between 2000 and 2008, when he was forced to stand down by the Constitution. He became prime minister after the inauguration of his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev. The two men are now expected to swap jobs.


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