U.S. worried by reports of electoral violations in Russia

The U.S. administration is worried about reports of electoral violations during the December 4 parliamentary elections in Russia, a White House spokesman said.

International observers from the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reported “flagrant procedural violations,” including cases of ballot-stuffing.

“We have serious concerns about the conduct of those December 4th parliamentary elections,” Jay Carney said.

U.S. officials said they were concerned by estimates given by European monitors from ODIHR, PACE and OSCE. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her concern about the election process earlier in the day.

“These concerns are reflected in the preliminary report issued by the OSCE’s Election Observation Mission, including a lack of fairness in the process, attempts to stuff ballot boxes, and the manipulation of voter lists among other things,” the White House spokesman said.

Sunday’s elections were marred by widespread allegations of poll procedure in favor of United Russia, with dozens of clips appearing to show election fraud uploaded onto the Internet.

OSCE observers noted that the preparations for the elections were technically “well-administered across a vast territory,” but marked by “a convergence of the state and the governing party,” limited political competition and a lack of fairness.

The contest was slanted in favor of the ruling party: the election administration lacked independence, most media were partial and state authorities interfered unduly at different levels, OSCE said.

“Equally concerning are reports that independent Russian election observation efforts, including the nationwide Golos network and independent media outlets encountered harassment of their personnel and cyberattacks on their websites,” Carney added.

U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said his country would provide greater support to non-governmental organizations in Russia for greater transparency of the March 4 presidential elections. Over $9 million were allocated from the Department of State budget for the purpose.

“We have, I know, spent more than $9 million to support free and transparent processes for Russia’s upcoming elections,” Toner said.

“Our interest is to support these NGOs that support the process, not necessarily to support… any given political party,” he went on. “And Golos, by the way, is just one of many nongovernmental organizations in Russia that receive this kind of assistance.”

The polls saw the ruling United Russia party suffer its worst ever nationwide result. While the party of Prime Minster Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev managed to hold onto a simple parliamentary majority, its share of the vote slumped from 64% to just under 50%.

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