Opposition protests local election results

All three opposition parties have walked out of Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in protest over local elections that took place on October 11 throughout the country.

The Communists, the Liberal Democrats and the Fair Russia party are demanding an urgent meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, claiming widespread voting irregularities.

“We want an urgent meeting with the President. We are going to insist on a repeat election in Moscow, the Tula region and the Mariy El republic. We also demand the suspension of duties for the heads of these regions for the time being,” Ivan Melnikov, who is both from the Communist Party and the State Duma Vice Speaker, told Interfax.

He added that they suggest holding consultations with the leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the Fair Russia.

“We are also putting forward the initiative to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate the results and to oversee the repeat election. But on one condition – the body should comprise the members of all the four parties represented in the State Duma,” Melnikov said.

The Russian president’s press secretary, Natalia Timakova, said that Dmitry Medvedev does not plan any urgent meeting with the parties.

“The president meets Duma parties leaders quite regularly, but for the next 10 days, such a meeting is not included in his schedule,” she said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is on an official visit in China, said that he is upset with the opposition’s demarche.

“Talking about the Duma, I can only forward my regrets. I think largely this whole situation is caused by inner-party rhetoric,” he said.

According to Putin, the parties in the Parliament must gather around the negotiations table and solve the crisis.

The prime minister added that he himself is satisfied with the way the elections went, and all the doubts of its fairness “should be resolved in court.”

On Wednesday the majority party United Russia resumed its session without the three opposition parties.

The State Duma Speaker and United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov has said he is outraged by the move of the parliamentary factions. He asserted that “sabotage of the plenary session will not lead to its cancellation.”

“The particular feature of the autumn election is that it has been marked by a series of scandals. These were the tactics chosen even by the opposition parliamentary parties. Their candidates have often resorted to dirty tricks, and today’s move marks the final point in their election campaign,” Gryzlov added.

The State Duma Deputy Speaker, Oleg Morozov, agreed with the opinion of his colleagues and stressed that the actions of the opposition won’t help in resolving the issue.

“In my opinion there are different ways of responding to political events in the country. But this one is probably the worst, as parliament is a platform for discussing any given topic,” he said.