Czech politicians express concern over Russia’s election flaws

03-03-2008

Politicians from across the Czech political scene have expressed concerns about the lack of democratic principles employed during Russia’s presidential election. While the Czech Foreign Ministry ‘regrets’ that Russian authorities didn’t allow for an open race of all the candidates, the opposition also share the concern for the future of Russian democracy.

Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, photo: CTKDmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, photo: CTK Regrets and hope. These words come out in Czech reactions to the result of Sunday’s presidential elections in Russia in which Dmitry Medvedev, handpicked by the incumbent Vladimir Putin, recorded a landslide victory. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek congratulated Mr Medvedev on his success on Monday but said restrictions for other candidates were incompatible with democracy. Zuzana Opletalová is the spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry.

“In the context of the internal developments in Russia today, the results of the presidential election come as no surprise. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic expresses regret at the fact that Russian authorities with their restrictive approach failed to provide equal conditions for all candidates, and like in the case of the December parliamentary elections, did not enable the deployment of a fully-fledged and independent election observation mission.”

Lubomír ZaorálekLubomír Zaorálek Russian authorities have been accused of giving Dmitry Medvedev preferential treatment over other candidates. Lubomír Zaorálek is shadow foreign minister for the strongest opposition party in the Czech Parliament, the Social Democrats.

“The procedure is incomparable to elections in Western Europe; that is clear. But on the other hand, we have to see that the process of totalitarian regimes opening up is very intricate – there are steps forward and there are steps backwards. I believe that it is now very difficult to say what future developments will entail, and who Mr Medvedev really is. We will have to wait. I don’t think that Mr Medvedev is only a puppet in Putin’s hands. I really think that the situation is open.”

The leader of the Russian Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov, who finished second in the presidential ballot with more than 17 percent of votes, has also complained about infringement of voting procedures. Czech communists, for their part, agree with their Russian comrades. Hassan Charfo is the head of the external relations department of the Czech Communist Party’s Central Committee.

“The result of the presidential elections in Russia had been expected. This means that the resulted was calculated with in advance because as you know, the media in Russia are in the hands of the government. These media were in favour of only one candidate – Mr Medvedev. This is a signal that the election was not fair and in any case not just. We hope that Russia will continue in its democratic changes and that this phenomenon will not be repeated in the next election.”

Commenting on the Russian presidential election and Mr Medvedev’s victory, both the Czech government and the opposition have expressed hope that the change in the Kremlin will not have a negative impact on Czech-Russian relations, which are currently hampered by American plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic.

03-03-2008