Wien, 3. December 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "No 'winter freeze' for democracy in Russia"

03.12.2007

Foreign Minister on Russia’s parliamentary elections

Vienna, 3 December 2007 - "There must be no winter freeze for Russian democracy. With the Russian parliamentary elections, we have experienced the chronicle of a foretold victory free of surprises", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on Sunday’s elections to the State Duma.

"Especially as a friend and close strategic partner of Russia, we should not refrain from speaking out frankly. We are convinced that a long-lasting positive and social development must go hand in hand with the corresponding democratic development. This is the only way of establishing sustainability", said Plassnik, reminding of the arrest of several opposition politicians in recent weeks. "In view of the indisputably strong support for President Putin among the Russian people, we would have expected more self-confidence and composure in dealing with political opposition and opposition politicians."

Plassnik: "Russia is a strategic partner of the European Union. Therefore, we place a particular focus on a trusting and predictable cooperation. This partnership can only function in the long run if both sides work toward a resilient community of values and interests consistently and on equal terms."

"By preventing a comprehensive OSCE election monitoring through bureaucratic harassment, Russia has not done itself a favour. Having the most comprehensive and most reliable expert knowledge in the monitoring of democratic elections, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) would have contributed to strengthening democratic awareness in Russia", stressed the Minister.

According to Plassnik, one can only hope that this situation will not be repeated and that the ODIHR will be allowed to observe the next presidential elections in Russia in March 2008 without any restrictions and in the usual professional and objective manner. "We expect Russia to allow the ODIHR to fully reassume its role as an election observer", Plassnik concluded.

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