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24 Oct, 2009 11:18

Opposition wants answers from president

Russia's opposition leaders shouldn't view their failure to win recent local elections as being a funeral for democracy, President Medvedev said during meetings with opposition representatives from Russia’s parliament.

“Talking about the recent local elections in Russia, I hope they don't become the funerals of democracy and the electoral system,” President Medvedev said. “…Still, I'm wearing black today, as you can see, because I assume you must be in mourning.”

The President agreed that local elections held October 11 across Russia weren’t ideal, but also said the election results would not be invalidated.

“I am ready to discuss the election results. There are special rules in the Constitution for disputing voting results. This is essential. There can be no electoral system without it,” Dmitry Medvedev said.

The meeting between the President and the representatives of three Russian opposition parties lasted for three hours. The leaders were satisfied with how it went.

“We all spoke out, the President responded to all speeches from all participants. He agreed that not everything went smoothly and there might have been violations which have to be examined,” said Liberal Democrat Leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

According to the presidential press secretary, Natalya Timakova, the meeting, originally scheduled for October 27, was moved to October 24 at the request of the opposition.

The Fair Russia party planned to submit to President Medvedev its amendments to the election legislation that would make it possible to prevent “instances of arbitrariness at elections” in the future. Central to the Fair Russia party's proposals is the cancellation of the possibility of early voting. They believe this tool is often used for “heavy rigging”.

The leader of the Fair Russia party in the State Duma, Nikolay Levichev, said his party demanded legal restrictions on the number of mobile ballot boxes. They also want the use of transparent, fixed ballot boxes, and video monitoring of polling stations. But their main demand is the criminal prosecution of officials responsible for rigging.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov was planning to explain what makes his fellow party members so critical of the October 11 election too.

“The Communist Party believes it is necessary to create a commission under the presidential office – and we invite the Liberal Democrats and the Fair Russia party to sign such a request – in order to investigate jointly all instances of crude abuse and violations that took place in the course of the October 11 elections,” Gennady Zyuganov said.