Putin Wants Absolute Transparency in Russia’s Presidential Elections

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 8:05 am (UTC-5)
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he wants the March presidential election to be absolutely transparent.

Mr. Putin met Tuesday with supporters and asked for input on how to keep the elections fair.

The prime minister insists he does not need to rig the voting in order to win the presidential election.

Alleged voter fraud in the December 4 Russian parliamentary elections has spurred the largest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union 20-years ago.

Organizers of the Moscow protest say more than 100,000 people joined the December 24 rally in below-freezing temperatures, exceeding the size of a similar protest earlier this month. Russian police estimated the turnout at about 28,000 people.

The activists say Mr. Putin's United Russia party won a narrow majority in this month's parliamentary elections illegally, through vote fraud. They want to throw out the results and hold a new vote. They also say measures are needed to prevent more fraud in Russia's presidential election in March, when Mr. Putin hopes to return to the post he held from 2000 to 2008.

The Moscow demonstrations and smaller anti-Putin rallies in other cities are the largest show of discontent in Russia since the 1990s. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has responded by promising reforms to allow more competition in elections beyond 2012. He is stepping down in March to make way for Mr. Putin's candidacy.

Mr. Putin has accused the United States of fomenting the anti-government demonstrations. He has derided the protesters, saying their white ribbons resemble condoms. Some participants in Saturday's rally in Moscow mocked the prime minister by holding portraits of him with a condom wrapped around his head and waving condoms blown up like balloons.