Lode Vanoost: Apart from the result that probably President Putin is going to renew his mandate, the most important thing is how many people actually went to vote, if it is 62 percent, let's compare it, for example, with participation in the Unites States, where it was much lower and nobody in the mainstream media yet discusses the legitimacy of the election there. Therefore, [given] that number, these are very legitimate elections indeed.
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Sputnik: Tell us: how did the Western press cover the Russian elections?
First of all, you have to distinguish between the technical process of the elections: you know — how are the ballots organized, how is the counting process going on, how's voter registration. On that level one can dispute that in Russia they have a decent system to organize elections. Of course, elections are more than just the technical system, [there's] also a political level, and one of the things that the media here emphasize is that the opposition candidates do not have fair accesses to the media, which for me is a bit odd, considering that several of these opposition candidates are quite well-known figures in the Russian media. So I'm not going to say that the big media in Russia are very fair or balanced, but again, compared to what? Compared to the American media, the British media, the French media, how fair and balanced are they towards opposition candidates? So I'm not going to say it's very good there and it's very bad here, things are much more complex than that, but I do not think it is correct to point the finger at Russia for being unfair on an issue where European countries and the United States do not have a lot to show for.
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Sputnik: Can you give us some forecast regarding relations between Russia and the European Union during the next presidential term?
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