European Parliament Tells Putin to Cool It

European Parliament. Source: Nyctransitforums.comThe European Parliament is calling on Vladimir Putin to simmer down his language in regards to anti-government demonstrators and to instead begin “a sincere dialogue.” A press release Thursday on the parliament’s website also condemned “irregularities in the electoral process” and issued a “call for reform,” reports.

The statement is reproduced below in full:

The European Parliament has condemned shortcomings and irregularities in the preparation and conduct of Russia’s 4 March presidential elections. In a resolution passed on Thursday, it called on Vladimir Putin to tone down his rhetoric against the protestors and begin a “sincere dialogue” with them.

MEPs point to the continuing concern “about developments in Russia with regard to human rights and commonly agreed democratic principles, electoral rules and procedures”.

Irregularities in the electoral process

Parliament regrets that the choice of voters was limited in the recent elections and demands comprehensive analyses of “all irregularities with a view to strengthening democratic rules for future elections”.

It points out that international election observers from the OSCE/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, found that the presidential elections were “deeply skewed in favour of one candidate through shortcomings in the registration process, unequal media coverage and the use of State resources in favour of one candidate”.

Call for reform

MEPs ask President Medvedev to turn words into deeds and guarantee that the necessary reforms to the political system are made. They also “expect that the new Russian President Vladimir Putin will be ready to take them forward, including the much needed simplification of rules governing the registration of political parties”.

The resolution urges all sides to take the opportunity, before the new president is inaugurated, to decide on a comprehensive reform package. It expects president-elect Putin as well as political parties represented in the State Duma to start a dialogue with the protestors and opposition on the country’s future.

Finally, Parliament encourages Russian democratic opposition groups to unite more closely around political reforms, thus affording Russian citizens a credible alternative.

An original resolution issued by the European Parliament in response to Russia’s March 4 presidential election was labeled as “too soft” by United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov and opposition politician Mikhail Kasyanov, as well as several MEPs from the European People’s Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. The original made note of electoral violations but did not support any sort of sanctions against Moscow. With Thursday’s statement, an eventual amended version of the resolution is expected to be harsher.