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.
Procedure: Motion for resolution