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White House Concerned about Fairness of Russian Election - 2003-12-08

The White House says it is concerned about the fairness of Russia's parliamentary elections. The balloting resulted in a huge victory for United Russia, the coalition of small parties and independents that supports President Vladimir Putin.

International monitors who kept watch on the elections say the balloting was free, but not fair. White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said the Bush administration agrees. "The OSCE, which monitored the elections has expressed concerns about the fairness of the election campaign, especially the media environment and the government resources. Those are concerns that we share," he said.

Mr. McClellan noted, however, that the election results roughly match the views expressed by voters in pre-election polls. He says members of the newly elected parliament should now dedicate themselves to pushing through further democratic reforms. He stresses those reforms should include bolstering democratic institutions such as a free press and political parties.

Supporters of President Putin are expected to dominate the new parliament with as much as a two-thirds majority. Mr. Putin faces re-election in March.