France Highlights Unmet Criteria For Free Elections In Russia

On Monday, France weighed in on the recent election, characterizing it as occurring amidst “repression,” as it extended Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s rule for another six years.

The statement also lauded the many Russians who protested against the outcome.

The French foreign ministry stated that Paris had acknowledged the anticipated result of the three-day polls, culminating in Putin securing a fifth term in the Kremlin.

Running unchallenged in the recent election, the 71-year-old Russian leader, who has maintained power since 2000, notably faced no serious opposition, particularly after the untimely passing of his prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, in an Arctic detention center last month.

“The conditions for a free, pluralist and democratic election were not met once again,” the French foreign ministry said.

It said the vote took place amid “increasing repression of civil society and all forms of opposition to the regime”.

“France salutes the courage of the many Russian citizens who have peacefully demonstrated their opposition to this attack on their fundamental political rights,” the ministry said.

Thousands of individuals across Russia and abroad heeded the call from Navalny’s team and other members of the Russian opposition, urging voters to gather at polling stations at noon on Sunday for a protest known as “Noon Against Putin.”

Many viewed the action as fulfilling Navalny’s final request, with France acknowledging that Navalny’s passing was partly attributable to the Russian authorities’ increased restrictions on his detention conditions.

Read also: Polls: Putin Secures Another 6-year Term As Russian President

In its statement, the foreign ministry lamented the exclusion of voices critical of Putin’s prolonged conflict with Ukraine, now entering its third year, from standing in the elections.

The French government also conveyed its disappointment at Russia’s omission of inviting election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The French government condemned the decision to hold the elections in areas of southern and eastern Ukraine currently occupied by Russia.

“France does not and will never recognise the holding and results of these so-called ‘elections’, and reaffirms its attachment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” it said.

French President Emmanuel Macron indicated he would not congratulate Putin on his victory.

He conveyed to the French daily Le Parisien that due to Alexei Navalny’s death and the banning of all of Putin’s opponents, it was inappropriate to congratulate someone on an election characterized by the demise of those who advocated for pluralism in Russia.

Africa Today News, New York 

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