Croatia Has No Comment on Fairness of Russia’s Presidential Elections

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ZAGREB, March 19, 2018 – Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić on Monday declined to comment on whether Russia’s presidential elections were fair, saying that the only thing the European Union can say is that “the elections in Russia were held and that Vladimir Putin won.”

“The elections have been implemented. We can say that Vladimir Putin won the election,” the Croatian foreign minister said. “It is not up to us to assess the election results, this is up to the OSCE and other observer missions. The EU did not have its observers in the election which is why we are waiting for the reports of the OSCE and other observer missions,” Pejčinović Burić said.

She, however, underscored the EU does not recognise the implementation of election at Crimea, given that it also does not recognise the illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea in 2014.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said on Monday there had been no real choice in Russia’s presidential election and complained it had been marked by unfair pressure on critical voices. “Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not a real choice,” the OSCE said in a statement, adding that restrictions on fundamental freedoms, as well as on candidate registration, had limited the space for political engagement.

Russia’s central election commission said on Monday morning that it had not registered any serious complaints of violations.

Russia’s central election commission said Putin won 75% of the votes. The commission said that the communist candidate, Pavel Grudinin, came second with 13.4% of the vote, and third was the ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky (6.3%). The only candidate to openly criticise Putin during the campaign, the liberal TV star Ksenia Sobchak, won 1.4%.

Putin has never faced a serious threat to his rule since he came to power on the eve of the new millennium. He won 53% of the vote in the 2000 presidential election, 71% in 2004 and 63% in 2012.

Turnout at the elections on Sunday was more than 67%, the commission reported. The Kremlin had initially sought a 70% share of the vote with 70% turnout but was said to have lowered its expectations as the election drew closer.

About 10 million more Russians voted for Putin than in 2012, when he appeared on the defensive after mass voter fraud at parliamentary elections sparked protests in Moscow and other large cities.

Earlier today, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović congratulated Putin on his re-election.


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