OSCE critical of Russia's State Duma vote

MOSCOW, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Only a few key players were actually competing in parliamentary elections in Russia with the ruling party coming out ahead, the OSCE said.

United Russia, the party led by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, took 49.5 percent of the votes in a weekend election for the State Duma. Communist parties, however, surged more than 11 percent compared with 2007 tallies, the country's election commission said.


As a result, Putin's party lost its constitutional majority for the first time since it was set up more than a decade ago, analysts told Bloomberg News.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said voters were able to make their voices heard at the ballot box but the vote was largely skewed in favor of Putin's party.

"These elections were like a game in which only some players are allowed on the pitch, and then the field is tilted in favor of one of the players," Heidi Tagliavini, head of the election observation mission of the OSCE, said in a statement.

The OSCE said it was pleased with the way in which Russian authorities managed to prepare for an election over the country's vast territory but was concerned over the lack of fairness and political competition.


Voting, the OSCE added, was well organized but the overall quality of the election declined as vote-counting got under way.

"The election administration lacked independence, most media were partial and state authorities interfered unduly at different levels," the organization said.

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