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Medvedev elected Russian president
Wary reaction from world leaders as Putin's chosen successor wins landslide victory.
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2008 20:38 GMT
 Riot police in Moscow detained dozens of activists protesting against the election result [AFP]

Dmitry Medvedev has been officially declared the winner of Russia's presidential election.
 
Medvedev, who was backed by Vladimir Putin to succeed him as president, won 70.23 per cent of Sunday's vote, official results from the Central Election Commission showed on Monday.
World leaders congratulated Medvedev on his victory, but many messages were tempered by doubts over the democratic credentials of his landslide win.
 
In Moscow, Russia's capital, riot police clashed with protesters who had tried to gather on Monday for an unauthorised rally against the result.

Stalinist parallels

 

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, offered his congratulations in a phone call to Medvedev and invited him to visit "as soon as he wishes".

 

Moscow protest

Al Jazeera's David Connolly at the rally

However, Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister, was less than effusive about the result.

 

Kouchner said: "I know there was no real competition in this election. The election was conducted Russian-style, with a victory known in advance."

 

Kouchner said Medvedev was elected with "very surprising figures, not quite worthy of Stalin, but 70 per cent is not bad".

 

Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, sent his congratulations but his spokesman stressed that London would "judge the new government on its actions and the results of those actions".

 

Gordon Johndroe, US national security spokesman, said George Bush, the US president, "looks forward" to working with the new Russian leader, but withheld comment on the conduct of the election.

 

"I'll leave that to the election observers," Johndroe said.

 

Democracy 'unfulfilled'

 

Andreas Gross, the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a Western election monitoring group, said that the democratic potential of Russia has been "unfulfilled".

 

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Gross said on Monday that presidential candidates had lacked equal access to the media, "putting into question the fairness of the election".

 
Medvedev's nearest rival, Gennady Zyuganov, received 17.8 per cent.
 
Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, said Russia's next president had promised a "direct continuation" of his predecessor's policies.
 
Medvedev said: "You can describe some elements of my position in different ways, but it seems to me that it will be a direct continuation of that path which was carried out and is being carried out by President Putin."
 
Election criticised
 
On Monday, riot police detained dozens of activists protesting against the election result, sometimes using batons. Protesters were dragged to waiting police buses.
 
Some of the demonstrators lit flares spreading smoke across the square in central Moscow, screaming: "Your election is a farce."
 
One protester said as riot police arrested people around her: "It is my duty to come down here and express my opposition after these pre-planned and falsified elections. Now they are dragging us away one by one."
 
More than 300 riot police swooped on small groups of protesters as soon as they appeared on the streets before the rally.
 
Even before the election was under way, critics had denounced it as little more than a stage show.
 
As voting progressed, the independent Russian election monitoring group said it had received a steady stream of complaints.

 

Many activists and ordinary Russians claim workers were pressed by bosses to vote and that some have been ordered to turn in absentee ballots, presumably so that someone else could vote in their stead.


The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), refused to send observers, saying the Russian authorities were imposing such tight restrictions that they could not work in a meaningful way.

 

The Central Election Commission said turnout on Sunday was 67.7 per cent.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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