Less than half of Russians consider March 4 presidential election trustworthy, a drop from previous elections that reflects a negative assessment of the ballot by the European Parliament. A poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, or Vtsiom, published Thursday shows the number of Russians who see the election as trustworthy is at 44%, down from 53% after the presidential election in 2004 and 2008. Vladimir Putin claimed victory, and 64% of the vote, in the election this year and is set to take the office of president on May 7 amid widespread criticism by the opposition, which cited mass irregularities, lack of real competition, and abuse of state resources in securing victory for Mr. Putin.
Election observers from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said the presidential elections were “deeply skewed in favor of one candidate through shortcomings in the registration process, unequal media coverage and the use of state resources in favor of one candidate.” Mr. Putin and his supporters ignored the criticism and said the election was the cleanest in Russia’s history. The group of Russians who don’t trust the results doubled, however, to 14% this year from 8% in 2004 and rose from 10% in 2008.
Slightly more than a third said that even though irregularities may have taken place, they didn’t change the general picture of the vote across the country. Although 55% of those polled haven’t heard of any wrongdoings during the election, the European Parliament Thursday condemned what it saw as shortcomings in the electoral process. The European Parliament said it was concerned “about developments in Russia with regard to human rights and commonly agreed democratic principles, electoral rules and procedures,” and called on Vladimir Putin to tone down his rhetoric against the protesters and begin a dialog with them.