U.S. Calls for 'Credible' Probe of Russia Presidential Vote
The United States on Monday urged Russia to conduct an "independent, credible" probe of election results that swept Vladimir Putin back to the Kremlin, amid widespread reports of irregularities.
But U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, without mentioning Putin by name, also said the United States "looks forward to working with the president-elect after the results are certified and he is sworn in."
Nuland said Washington endorses the preliminary report of the observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The spokeswoman noted that the head of the PACE delegation found that "the election had a clear winner with an absolute majority."
But Nuland also noted the "OSCE concerns about the conditions under which the campaign was conducted, the partisan use of government resources, and procedural irregularities on election day."
She added: "We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent, credible investigation of all reported electoral violations."
At the same time, she said, as the OSCE pointed out in its report, the Central Election Commission had taken new steps to increase "transparency of the voting process since the parliamentary elections" in December.
"We urge Russian authorities to build on these steps to ensure that the procedures for future elections will be more transparent," it said.
Nuland cited a list of positive developments.
"We are encouraged to see so many Russian citizens voting, monitoring voting in their local precincts, exercising their constitutional right to free assembly, and expressing their views peacefully about the political and electoral processes," she said.
"The number of Russian election observers who monitored this vote is unprecedented and a sign that Russian society seeks to participate in the improvement of Russia's democratic institutions," Nuland added.
"We also recognize the government's efforts to reform the political system," she said.
These include "the reintroduction of direct elections for governors, the simplification of party registration procedures, and the reduction in the numbers of signatures needed to register presidential candidates."