The United States said Monday that laws against “extremism” in Russia prevented opposition parties from a fair shot in parliamentary elections.
“The Russian government’s use of laws on “extremist organizations,” “foreign agents,” and “undesirable organizations” severely restricted political pluralism and prevented the Russian people from exercising their civil and political rights,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Monday.
“Furthermore, we do not recognize holding elections for the Russian Duma on sovereign Ukrainian territory and reaffirm our unwavering support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” Price added.
Longtime Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party claimed a decisive victory in the elections while many politicians who support jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny were barred from running.
Britain also said Monday that the prevention of opposition politicians from running, and intimidation of voters was not in accordance with Russia’s international commitments to free and fair elections.
“The measures taken by the Russian authorities to marginalize civil society, silence independent media and exclude genuine opposition candidates from participating in the elections undermine political plurality and are at odds with the international commitments that Russia has signed up to,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement Monday.
Within Russia, many candidates in parties opposing Putin’s United Russia claimed the vote had been rigged. In at least 15 districts, opposition candidates who were initially ahead in vote tallies all lost when electronic votes were counted.
“I know that such a result is simply not possible,” communist candidate Mikhail Lobanov wrote on Twitter, calling for people to gather to discuss “next steps.”