France urges Russia to probe vote irregularities

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France on Monday urged Moscow to investigate allegations of widespread irregularities in parliamentary elections in Russia over the weekend.

"All light must be shed on allegations in the report of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and we hope that lessons will be learned for the next elections organised in Russia," the deputy spokesman for the French foreign ministry, Romain Nadal, told a press conference.

Earlier Monday, international observers led by the OSCE said that Russia's parliamentary polls were marred by frequent procedural violations including ballot stuffing.

Sunday's polls "were characterised by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including serious indications of ballot box stuffing," the security body said after observing 115 polling stations.

The election resulted in a victory for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party, but with a sharply reduced majority, in a blow for the Russian strongman ahead of his planned return to the Kremlin in 2012.

© 2011 AFP

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