Putin's 'Young Guards' taste victory
The new-look Duma
Representatives of United Russia, along with leaders of the Young Guards, addressed a celebration rally on Manezhnaya Square, next to the Kremlin in central Moscow. Delegates congratulated party members on their success in the election. A concert has been organised to celebrate what they call ‘Putin’s victory’, ‘United Russia’s victory’.
Meanwhile, international reaction to the parliamentary election that took place in Russia on December 2 has been mixed.
Some international observers and government officials said the election was free and no serious violations were noticed. Others, however, said they were worried by what they had seen.
Moscow dismissed the allegations by the European observers that the vote was unfair.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Germany was among the first to criticise.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he “deeply regretted” that OSCE election monitors weren't able to inspect the election process from the start, as they had done in previous years.
“There was only short-term monitoring by members of the parliamentary OSCE committee,” Steinmeier said.
“And indeed accusations have been made that the election did not happen according to OSCE principles. I expect Russia to look into all these accusations,” he said.
Russian Foreign Ministry said that it viewed the allegations of violations as comments relating more to the problems of the countries and governments whose representatives were in Russia rather than to the parliamentary election directly.
It added it was surprised that PACE and OSCE observers presented their results to the media and not to the Russian Central Election Commission.
The Ministry also claims that the news conference held by the heads of the PACE and OSCE missions in Moscow started before these organisations had contacted all of their observers in the Russian regions.
However, Moscow said it will look into any allegations of violations made by the observers.
Washington said that it would not comment on the election until a full report made by the Russian side and international observers is available.
U.S. political analyst Charles Kupchan from Georgetown University said Washington is more interested in Russia’s policies than in the state of democracy inside the country.
He said while the U.S. “would have preferred” more OSCE observers to have taken part in monitoring the election, the government in Washington had different priorities.
“The Bush administration needs Russia on many different fronts, from the issue of Kosovo’s independence, to Iran, to the recently suspended CFE Treaty – an important conventional arms treaty,” he said.
Putin’s position is strong
Meanwhile, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said United Russia's election victory was beyond doubt, despite reports that the poll may not have come up to European standards.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk
“The election confirms the very strong position that President Putin holds in the country and, despite some violations that might have occurred, it seems to be the choice of Russians. I don’t see any reason to question it,” he said.
Commenting on questions between the two countries, Mr Tusk said they “can and must improve” in the coming weeks and months.
“Let’s wait for the meeting of our Foreign Ministers, which is due on December 6 or 7 in Brussels. We’ll see then,” Tusk added.
American Time magazine draws a parallel between President Putin and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
“The explanation for Putin's popularity may be found in certain similarities to the man often credited with helping to bring down the Soviet Union. It's not that the former KGB man has any policy preferences or even a political style in common with Ronald Reagan, the great icon of contemporary American conservatism. But in the sense that he has made Russians feel good once again about their country, his appeal is Reaganesque,” the magazine writes.
The official results of the election will be published in the next few days. The preliminary results given by Russia’s Central Election Committee show that the United Russia party will have 315 out of 450 seats in the State Duma, giving it a huge constitutional majority.
The Communists will get 57, and the remaining 78 seats will be divided almost equally between the Liberal Democrats and Fair Russia.
Coalition talks are already believed to be taking place behind closed doors.
It is widely rumoured that Fair Russia party might merge with United Russia.
It has also been suggested that several leaders of the opposition coalition, ‘Other Russia’, have called for party leaders, like Communist Gennady Zyuganov, to refuse their mandates in order to demand a re-run of the election.
According to the Russian Constitution, party members are not allowed to change fractions once the State Duma is formed.
The Russian State Duma is the lower house of the Russian parliament. The Federation Council is the upper house.
The Duma's responsibilities include passing laws, which later have to be approved by the Federation Council. It can override the veto of the President by a two thirds majority, approve or reject the President's nominee for Prime Minister of Russia and file an impeachment against the President.
The State Duma replaced the Supreme Soviet in 1993. But the first Duma was formed before the October Revolution of 1917, in April 1906.