Putin elected to third term; observers express concern

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has won a third term as the country's President after having served in his current role for four years.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was elected to his third term as President of Russia after the country's Monday election, causing concern from local and international communities about the legitimacy of the election.

According to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, Putin received nearly 65% of the vote, placing him vastly ahead of the Russian Communist Party's nominee for President, Gennady Zyuganov, who received 17.18% of the vote.

European observers, including those from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, however, reported that they saw "ballot stuffing and other irregularities" at almost a third of polling stations across the country, and Pravda reported that industrial plants may have violated the law by "bussing workers to polling stations."

Outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is expected to become the country's Prime Minister.

A spokeswoman for European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton "broadly agrees with reports... that highlighted problems with Sunday's election," and that the European Union will be "encouraging Russia to address these shortcomings."

Valentin Gorbunov, Chairman of the Moscow Election Commission, denies claims that these plants broke the law, saying that it was a normal practice. Additionally, Putin asked that webcams, to be monitored by election officials, be installed in polling stations to increase transparency in the election process.

Among those crying foul are Russian Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who accused Putin's United Russia party of "massive fraud."

Putin, who has been serving as the country's Prime Minister for the past four years, was forced to not stand in the country's 2008 election due to constitutional limitations which kept him from a third consecutive term.