Swiss observer: Russian elections free but unfair

A Swiss election observer, Andreas Gross, says Sunday's presidential elections in Russia were free but unfair. He criticised that the media did not give the opposition a proper say in the election campaign.

This content was published on March 28, 2000 - 17:05

A Swiss election observer, Andreas Gross, says Sunday's presidential elections in Russia were free but unfair. He criticised that the media did not give the opposition a proper say in the election campaign.

Gross, a Social Democratic Party MP, said the election had not been a race between equals. He said the opposition was denied sufficient television airtime. "The Russian media does not work according to democratic principles", Gross said, "they lack of a sense of fairplay."

Gross pointed out that the election and vote counting met international standards. He was one of two Swiss election monitors who were in Russia as part of a Council of Europe delegation.

Speaking about the future of Russia's democracy, Gross said much depended on whether the newly-elected president, Vladimir Putin, could free himself from the circles which brought him to power.

Gross and his colleague, Claude Frey from the Radical Party, visited 15 balloting stations of their own choice in a rural area north of Saint Petersburg.

On Monday, the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, joined other western leaders in calling on Putin to end the conflict in Chechnya. He urged Russia to meet its obligations within the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Deiss also appealed to Russia to ensure that international humanitarian organisations are able to carry out their work in the breakaway republic under the best possible conditions.

swissinfo and agencies

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