Kremlin panel urges sacking of election chief, fraud probe
An advisory Kremlin panel said on Saturday numerous reports of mass violations in parliamentary polls this month discredited parliament and called for the resignation of the head of the Elections Commission.
"Numerous reports of ballot stuffing, re-writing of protocols of ballot results, an unjustified removal of observers and journalists (from polling stations), a ban on photography and video recording and other violations of electoral rights as well as inexplicable paradoxes of electoral statistics lead to mass distrust of the poll results."
"This discredits the electoral system and the lower house of parliament formed on its basis morally and politically and creates a real threat to the Russian state," it said in a statement.
The advisory Kremlin rights panel called for the resignation of the head of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov, adding that all the members of regional election commission involved in the violations during the parliamentary vote should be let go before March presidential elections.
"In the conditions of a current electoral campaign this post should immediately be taken up by a person with an impeccable reputation who commands respect in civil society," it said, urging a probe into reports of violations.
Claims of wholesale violations in December 4 parliamentary elections which handed a reduced majority to Vladimir Putin's ruling party brought tens of thousands of people out onto the streets across Russia on December 10 in the largest show of public anger in the country since the early 1990s.
In defiance of those protests, the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, met for its first session this week.
The panel's tough-worded statement comes as Russia's opposition plans to stage new nationwide demonstrations expected to attract tens of thousands of people to protest alleged rigging of the vote.
Ruling party United Russia won less than half the vote in the elections and lost 77 seats as fatigue sets in with the 12-year rule of strongman Putin, who is planning to win his old Kremlin job back in March polls and could stay in power until 2024.
© 2011 AFP