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EU’s Ashton acknowledges ‘clear victory’ for Putin

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton acknowledged Monday a “clear victory” in Russia’s presidential election for Vladimir Putin.

“The EU takes note of the preliminary results of the presidential elections and the clear victory of Vladimir Putin,” Ashton said in a statement also urging Russia to address “shortcomings” identified by international observers.

Putin secured almost 64 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, winning back the Russian presidency he held for two terms from 2000-2008 before his four-year stint as prime minister.

“The EU looks forward to working with the incoming Russian president and the new government in full support of our shared modernisation agenda, which we see as covering both economic and political reforms,” Ashton said.

“We trust the new Russian president will be ready to take these reforms forward, in dialogue with citizens and civil society.”

Her statement highlighted what the observers said was “significant civic engagement in the campaign” and the fact Russian “authorities allowed protests to take place without undue interference.”

It went on to say the observers had also identified “shortcomings and irregularities in the preparations and conduct of these elections and that voters’ choice was limited.

“The EU encourages Russia to address these shortcomings,” Ashton said.

The report by the OSCE-led observers found “bad or very bad” vote counting procedures in 29 out of 98 observed cases and noted that Putin’s experiment with web cameras at polling stations “did not fulfil the expectations.”

In a separate statement European Parliament head Martin Schulz welcomed “the reawakening of civil activism in Russia, which was clearly visible at peaceful countrywide protests during the campaign.”

“I am concerned that the electoral process lacked fairness, notably with regard to a limited choice of candidates and irregularities in the procedure,” he added.