‘US pins labels:’ Russia slams Clinton over election criticism

The Russian Foreign Ministry shot back at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her criticism that Russia’s elections were neither free nor fair. But as the US attempts to take the moral high ground, their political games seem as dirty as ever.

­In a strongly-worded statement, Moscow expressed its regret that “Washington is sticking to long-outdated stereotypes and continuing to pin labels, without even trying to look into what is actually happening on our electoral field," Interfax reports.

Pointing out that the US electoral system is “far from perfect,” the foreign ministry continued that only the Russian people “can determine the future of our country – regardless of anyone’s partial judgments and politicized recipes."

Clinton, who had previously chastised Russia’s State Duma elections, stepped up the rhetoric while speaking at an Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) ministerial meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania Tuesday.

“When authorities fail to prosecute those who attack people for exercising their rights or exposing abuses, they subvert justice and undermine the people’s confidence in their governments,” she noted.

“As we have seen in many places, and most recently in the Duma elections in Russia, elections that are neither free nor fair have the same effect,” Reuters quoted her as saying.

However, Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT Clinton’s remarks shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

“This is standard procedure for the State Department, interfering in other people’s elections, sometimes directly, like in the Arab Spring; sometimes Indirectly, as is the case of Russia.”

Escobar also believes the US is in no position to criticize Russia’s elections based on its own election irregularities and double standards.

“We had a stolen election in 2000, we had a semi-stolen election in 2004, in Ohio, not in Florida, this is documented, everybody knows this, even in the US, we had Hillary Clinton going recently to Uzbekistan and praising the progress in Uzbekistan, probably she means progress that (Uzbek President Islam) Karimov is not boiling opponents anymore, so it’s an enormous hypocrisy.”

­‘US criticize outcome, not process, if they don’t like it’

­New York-based author and political analyst Eva Golinger believes Clinton’s comments are absolutely politicized. In her view, this is another example of “US intervention in electoral processes around the world, it’s not just Russia.”

“We saw another case about a month ago in Nicaragua, where the reigning government of Daniel Ortega won the election with over 60% of the votes, which were certified by the electoral board, and there were also observers there as well – and the US has not only called into question the electoral process.”

The analyst points out that the US now is not even recognizing the results, but says this is mainly because “they just don’t like Daniel Ortega.”

“So this is evidence of arrogant attitude from the US, where whether or not the process is legitimate – that’s not what they are criticizing: they are criticizing the outcome, because frankly they just don’t like it.”

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­‘US attempts to weaken Russia’

­Brian Becker, a Washington DC political analyst from the ANSWER Coalition, believes that the real intentions of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have to be analyzed from the angle of their real ability parse election results: whether they “really want to make a sound judgment, or was it a rush to judgment,” whether it was in fact “the script that choreographed a planned response to whatever happened in Russia – not because of the concern about whether the elections were fair, not because there may have been improprieties, but because the US is involved in an effort to weaken Russia and to delegitimize the Russian government and all things the Russian government supervises, including the electoral process.”

Becker added that Clinton’s reaction is “a flagrant violation of the internal affairs of Russia, and is politically motivated.”

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­Meanwhile, the EU has also expressed concern over violations noted by OSCE observers at Russia’s parliamentary elections, said Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

She pointed out that she had taken note of the OSCE's report, saying that while the vote was well organized, the reports of not-quite-impartial media; lack of clear division between the ruling party and the state; and obstacles to independent monitoring groups arouse concerns. Ashton went on to say that she hopes Russian authorities will solve the problems pointed out by international and domestic observers in order to make the upcoming presidential elections in spring fair and correctly carried out.