Sunday

17th Feb 2019

EU institutions back Putin despite vote-rigging

  • Barroso and Putin (c) in Brussels last year: 'There will continue to be contacts and indeed meetings at the highest level' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU institutions have said it is business as usual with Russian leader Vladimir Putin despite questioning the legitimacy of his re-election.

Foreign relations spokeswoman Maja Kocjanic told press in Brussels on Monday (4 February): "The EU looks forward to working with the new Russian President and the Russian government in full support of Russia's modernisation agenda and trusts that the Russian leader is ready to take this forward."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She made the endorsement despite acknowledging that international monitors from the Vienna-based democracy watchdog, the OSCE, have said the election was fixed.

The OSCE mission just a few minutes before the EU press briefing had complained that the vote-count was suspect in more than one third of ballot stations and that state media was biased in favour of Putin in the run-up to the event. It added that voters' choice was limited, with none of the main opposition candidates even allowed to run.

"Overall, we share their assessment," Kocjancic said.

For its part, the Russian Central Election Commission said Putin won by 64 percent.

The number is more credible than, for instance, the 97 percent claimed by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in his election last month. But Putin out-Berdymukhamedoved Berdymukhamedov in some regions, claiming 99.8% in Chechnya and 100% in one village in the Bryansk region.

Independent Russian monitoring group Golos said he really got about 50 percent overall.

The leader of the Liberal group in the EU parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, who went to Moscow on Monday to show support for anti-Putin protesters, was alone in calling for an overhaul of EU-Russia relations.

"There can be no business as usual with a country that disregards basic democratic principles," he said in an emailed statement.

Meanwhile, EU parliament chief Martin Schulz, a German Socialist, took the line that "Russia is a strategic partner" and that "We should work towards improving our ties, including in trade, energy security and global stability."

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Arkenhilde said commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso will formally congratulate Putin later in the day: "I think you know how close our relations are with the Russian President. There will continue to be contacts and indeed meetings at the highest level."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Siebert also said she will call Putin on Monday to "wish him success in his next mandate."

A British government spokesman highlighted the fact even Golos said Putin got more than 50 percent: "It is clear that the election has delivered a decisive result."

Russia: EU and US want war with Syria

Russia has accused Nato countries of trying to start a war with Syria and foment unrest in Iran - claims backed up by some Western security analysts.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us