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27 Oct, 2009 14:25

Election fraud claims must be investigated - Medvedev

President Medvedev has asked the head of Russia's Central Election Commission to look into the alleged fraud claims made by the opposition leaders during the October 11 regional elections.

“All the claims without exception should be looked into thoroughly. They need to be answered in court, otherwise we would be moving our political system in the wrong direction,” Dmitry Medvedev said during a meeting with Vladimir Churov on Tuesday.

“However, despite the claims, all the party leaders I have spoken to said the election generally showed the will of the people,” he added.

The Russian head of state said “the wrinkles that were revealed and problems that arose must be taken into account in the CEC activities in the future”.

Medvedev said the Russian election system is young and developing, adding that equal and direct general election by secret ballot in the country is only 20 years old. He noted that the election system cannot be conservative and said that even countries with well-established democracies regularly change electoral rules.

"Rules change and so do technologies. We must be sound conservatives and keep looking forward," Medvedev said.

Churov, commenting on the issue, said that “Each appeal, each complaint has been checked several times, and those that have aspects for the court [to evaluate] have been passed to the court.”

The Chairman of the CEC said that currently there are 196 appeals to the Prosecutor General’s Office over the October elections; 69 cases have already been passed to court.

During the October 11 elections, some polling stations were the subject of irregularities. Opposition party leaders claimed results were rigged in favor of 'United Russia', the country's ruling party. In protest, on October 14, the deputies representing the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Fair Russia party walked out of a parliamentary session.

Last Saturday, at a meeting with the opposition leaders, Medvedev promised a thorough investigation of the claims.