Politics

Fairness of Russian presidential election questioned, protests expected

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Russia's current Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin, front, speaks to staff at his campaign headquarters in Moscow on March 4, 2012. Putin claimed victory in Russia's presidential election on Sunday and, tears rolling down

On Sunday, Vladimir Putin won six years as President of Russia. Putin, who has been serving as Prime Minister of Russia, will return to the presidency for the first time since 2008.

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Putin, who critics deem anti-democratic, is once again under scrutiny, as questions remain on the fairness of Russia's presidential election. The Organization of Security and Co-Operation in Europe reported international observers found the election process to be unequal.

“There were serious problems from the very start of this election. The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt,” Tonino Picula, the head of OSCE's observation, said.

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Election corruption claims include election monitors being ejected from polling stations, and even beaten. There are also reports of carousel voting, a process in which a group of voters goes to several polling stations and cast multiple votes. Despite many reports of election rigging, spokespeople for Putin are not confirming any wrongdoing.

"We know about these claims, but we cannot speak right now about falsifications. This is on the court, or election committee that can take a decision, whether it is a falsification or not," Dmitry Peskov said.

Some opponents are refusing to recognize Putin as president, and mass protests are expected in Moscow on Monday night. And with political protests, there is always the threat of violence.

"I'm afraid that there would be very strong decisions from the president administrations, and they would try to suppress the opposition and the protest movement," Yury Saprykin, a journalist in Moscow and opposition activist, said. 

With tearful eyes, Putin claimed he won a "clean" victory in his acceptance speech Sunday night. His response to critics and expected protests of the Kremlin in Moscow remains to be seen.