Russian committee promises to investigate election complaintsDecember 12th, 2011 - 5:29 pm ICT by BNO News
MOSCOW (BNO NEWS) — The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) on Monday promised to investigate dozens of official complaints filed about this month’s parliamentary elections after tens of thousands of people protested against alleged vote fraud.
SK Chairman Alexander Bastrykin told Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin during a meeting in Moscow on Monday that it is investigating a total of 45 election complaints. “We have already begun this work,” Bastrykin was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency.
The official said some of the election complaints are from Moscow, the Altai Republic, the Altai, Murmansk, Magadan, Kostroma, and the Sakhalin regions. “Instructions have been issued to conduct procedural checks and institute criminal proceedings if the necessary grounds exist,” he said. “All the facts will be checked objectively, fully and comprehensively; if the necessary facts are found out criminal cases will be opened followed by a full, comprehensive and objective investigation.”
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Russians staged anti-government protests across the country to criticize the recent elections which they claim were rigged in favor of Vladimir Putin’s governing United Russia party. The demonstrations, which were the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union, began on the country’s Pacific coast and moved westwards over eight time zones.
In Moscow, thousands of protesters waved banners and chanted slogans to demand the resignation of election commission chief Vladimir Churov and other officials such as Putin himself. Police estimated that around 25,000 people participated in the rally in Moscow alone, although organizers said the number was closer to 40,000.
On Sunday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev responded to the protests by posting a brief message on his Facebook page. “Under the Constitution, Russian citizens enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” he said. “People have a right to express their views which is what they did [on Saturday.]”
Medvedev added: “I do not agree with the slogans or statements made at the meetings. Nevertheless, I have instructed to check all the information from polling stations regarding compliance with the electoral legislation.”
Earlier this month, Russia held parliamentary elections which many Russian voters and international observers said were marred by large-scale fraud. The ruling United Russia party won more votes than any of the other three parties, but it still suffered a significant drop from the two-thirds constitutional majority it has enjoyed for the past four years.
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