International Observers React to Russian Presidential Election

© Sputnik / Vitaly Ankov / Go to the mediabankCounting of votes in the Russian presidential elections
Counting of votes in the Russian presidential elections - Sputnik International
The observers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) believe that local election commissions at the Russian presidential vote complied with the principles of transparency and openness, Secretary-General of the SCO, Rashid Alimov, said on Monday.

"The actions of the election commissions were professional, open, transparent, which helped hold the election in a calm atmosphere," Alimov told a press conference in Moscow.

According to Alimov, the members of local election commissions ensured that everyone could vote.

"We have witnessed that, [election commission members] remained impartial during the voting. They were always attentive, listening to the voters," Alimov added.

The SCO observers did not have any difficulty entering polling stations, even if the visit was made without a warning, he noted.

READ MORE: Russia Votes: 'Elections Won't Have Fair Review in the West' — Analyst

The Secretary-General concluded that the SCO observers mission did not see any serious violations during Russian presidential election that would put its legitimacy into question.

CIS Observing Mission

A similar response has been voiced by Viktor Guminsky, the head of the special observing mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), who stated that the recent presidential election held in Russia was free, legitimate and competitive.

"The Russian presidential election was held in line with the electoral legislation of the country and met the generally accepted norms of holding democratic elections… [the CIS observing mission] recognizes that the election was legitimate, free, open and competitive," Guminsky said at a press conference.

The senior observer hailed the activities of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) adding that it worked openly and transparently during the vote.

"According to the opinion of the CIS monitors, recorded violations were not of a system and mass nature and have not affected the results of the vote. They were insignificant and there is no need to focus on them," Guminsky said.

The official added that the observer mission had registered some minor violations during campaigning in the course of the Russian presidential election.

"Certain insignificant violations in the process of campaigning have been registered… [Authorities] have responded to the violations and such breaches could not have an impact on the results of the vote," he said.

EU and US accusations of Russia refusing to register presidential candidates and putting pressure on them may be considered interference in Russia's internal affairs, Guminsky added.

Russian Election Conducted Well, Voters ‘Very Mature’ – Chinese Observer

The 2018 Russian presidential election was conducted very well, both legally and in terms of its organization, Li Yongquan, the director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and an election observer from China, said on Monday.

"Legally and organization-wise, the presidential election was conducted very well. The strongest impression is that Russian voters are very mature," Li said at a press conference at the Rossiya Segodnya news agency.

According to the Chinese observer, delegation members agreed that this year’s election was very open and well organized.

He noted that the Chinese delegation visited Moscow and Smolensk, meeting no obstacles in its work.

Putin's Election Result in Crimea Reaffirms Reunification — German Observer

The residents of Crimea sent a message to the West by voting overwhelmingly for incumbent Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the presidential election, thereby closing the issue of the peninsula's status once and for all, Andreas Maurer, an election observer from Germany, said on Monday.

"Today, when we saw the results of the election, we came to the conclusion that the people of Crimea sent a message to the West. The people of Crimea have always known that the 2014 decision [to reunify with Russia] was the right one, but yesterday they closed the issue once and for all," Maurer told reporters.

On Sunday, the residents of Crimea voted in the Russian presidential election for the first time in the region's history. Putin secured 92.15 percent of the vote with a turnout of 71.55 percent.

The issue was put to rest by Russia, whether the West agreed with it or not, the German observer said.

Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014 after a regional referendum determined that over 90 percent of the peninsula's residents were in favor of reunification. Ukraine and many Western countries have not recognized this move. Russian officials have repeatedly stressed that the referendum was held in accordance with the international legal framework.

French Observer Opinion

International observers were impressed with the turnout at the Russian presidential election, which was high despite the cold weather, Elie Hatem, a member of the Paris Bar Association and a former international adviser to the UN secretary-general, said Monday.

"I can also say that we were so impressed by the participation in this process. Young people, older people coming very early in the morning. And despite very cold weather, despite the snow," Hatem, who served as an adviser to ex-UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, told a press conference.

Russian voters came to polls in scores across the country and abroad on Sunday. The turnout exceeded 67 percent after 99.83 percent of the ballots have been counted.

"I can say that everything was fair. I did not notice any contravention at all. And I am so glad after results of those elections," the observer noted.

Hatem noted that in many Western countries, including France, in contrast to Russia political life is unduly influenced by different lobbies.

"What we have to know that in Western countries, like in France, for example, there is the game of mainstream media. And what is behind mainstream media I think the big difference is that here [in Russia] the game is more open, more free while in France there are, for example, I would say, secret societies behind media. There are lobbies playing with the public opinion and it is totally obvious," the observer said.

Hatem highlighted that things in Russia are more clear and people can express their will in a more direct and free way without the interference of those lobbies that work behind the scenes.

Observer From India Calls Russian Election 'Fair'

The March 18 Russian presidential election was fair and transparent, Sunil Ambekar, an international election observer from India, said on Monday, expressing hope that India-Russia relations can develop further.

"I thought it was a very fair and transparent election… In India we need, we want to see a strong democratic Russia. It will not only help Russia, the world, but it is a very special privilege to the Indian people … I hope that India-Russia relations will develop further," Ambekar, who is also the national organizing secretary of Indian student organization ABVP, said at a press conference of international observers in Moscow.

READ MORE: Russian Military at the Hmeymim Air Base Vote Early in Presidential Elections

Ambekar noted that the North-South Transport Corridor project, which aims to connect Europe to South Asia by using railways of Russia and other nations, is especially important for the development of bilateral cooperation.

Italian Observer Congratulates Russia on Presidential Vote Results

Italian UNGL Nazionale labor union member Gian Luigi Ferretti, who was an observer of the Russian presidential election, on Monday congratulated Russia on the high level of democracy in the country and outcome of the vote.

"My congratulation for the high degree of democracy. My congratulations on the results of this election. My congratulations with your excellent president," Ferretti said at a press conference.

The Italian politician added that he was very satisfied with the democratic process in Russia.

An election campaign billboard in Moscow for the 2018 Russian presidential election - Sputnik International
US Attempts to Influence Russian Presidential Elections to Continue - Report
Yet another observer from Italy, Gianluca Savoini, who is the head of the Lombardia Russia Cultural Association, told Sputnik that the re-election of incumbent President Vladimir Putin would be important for nations seeking the establishment of the multipolar world order.

"I am happy to be here and witness democratic presidential elections and I think that Russia will decide today to continue the course under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, who in the past fought with globalists’ attacks against his country… Putin is a person, whose re-election would be important not only for Russia but for the rest of the world, for Europe, for all nations that want to build a multipolar world versus unipolar," Savoini, who is also adviser on foreign affairs to Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Lega Nord party, said.

Pakistan Election Commission

The Russian presidential election was held at a professional level, secretary of the Pakistan's Election Commission Yaqub Fateh said Monday.

"Sufficient time was given to voters to cast their votes according to the national standards, and the poling stations had video cameras. The poling's staff was very willing to answer my questions and I was allowed to take photos of people in process very freely. The staff was professional, and I also found observers present at all the polling stations. The process was transparent and openly placed. The identity of voters was checked very vigilantly. Overall, it was a very professional election according to my own experience, and I complement the authorities who were responsible for this," Fateh told at a press conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) international observer commission.

OSCE Disappointed Over Kiev Restricting Voting Access During Russian Presidential Election

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) is disappointed that Ukrainian authorities restricted voting access at Russian diplomatic missions in Ukraine, Marietta Tidei, the vice-president of the OSCE PA and the head of the OSCE PA election observation mission to Russia, said Monday

"I am sincerely disappointed that the Ukrainian authorities restricted access to the polling stations. I fully understand the difficult situation of relations between Ukraine and Russia, but the fundamental right to vote should not be a casualty of conflict between the governments," Tidei said at a press-conference in Moscow.

On Sunday, Ukrainian police blocked access to the Russian Embassy in Kiev and consulates in the Ukrainian cities of Lvov and Odessa, preventing Russian nationals from taking part in the Russian presidential election. The move followed the relevant warning announced by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry on Friday. The ministry explained the decision by Russia’s plans to organize the electoral process in Crimea, which Kiev considers occupied territory.

Mexican Observer Describes How Russia's Voting Process' Was Open as Possible'

Mexican observer Jaime Rivera Velázquez, an electoral adviser from the National Electoral Institute of Mexico, was an observer in Istra, a town in the Moscow Region.

"The presidential elections held on March 18 in Russia could serve as an example for other countries," Velázquez said.

He drew attention to "the ease with which the election commissions were opened for foreign observers." According to him, this "indicates the openness of the process."
He also appreciated "the Central Electoral Commission's technological platform used for collecting and counting the results."

"The electronic ballot box seems to me to be a good invention. It features voting by ballots, which makes it more individual and safe; and at the same time this ballot is read by an electronic ballot box that helps to count results more quickly. I think this is a good technological and political decision," he said.

Jaime Rivera Velázquez visited several voting centers in Istra in the Moscow Region, where he could observe how people make their choice, vote and submit the ballots.

"I can say that the voting process was accompanied with a high level of order, the active involvement of citizens and was well organized by the authorities."

He also noted that despite the low temperature, which was —10ºC in Istra, he "is feeling very happy in Russia" although the local climate is very different from his own country and Latin America as a whole. "I can say that the Russian winter has its own certain beauty," he stressed.

German Observer Confirms High Voter Turnout in Crimea for Russian Presidential Election

Voter turnout at Crimean polling places during Russian presidential elections was high and reflects the official reports, Andreas Maurer, the head of the Die Linke party group of the Quakenbruck parliament who came as an observer to Crimea, said.

"In the West, I have never seen people waiting in a line to cast a ballot, especially early in the morning. The choice of place was a spontaneous decision. We wanted to see how the elections are organized in towns, villages, small settlements … Today I was making an overview and saw what a big German newspaper wrote on the election in Crimea. Well, it was absurd, I was ashamed of such [reporting]. It said that only 30 percent of the population came to vote, but what we saw was different. We saw lines. We can confirm the actual high turnout," Maurer told reporters.

The observer added that the elections were transparent and well-organized. Maurer said that people came with their families and it was the first time that he saw such long lines of voters.

The observer called on Western journalists to refrain from reporting on the elections in Crimea if they were not themselves present on the peninsula.

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