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EU urges Russia to address Putin election ‘shortcomings’

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton urged Russia on Monday to address “shortcomings” in the vote to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin in the European Union’s initial reaction to the poll.

“The EU takes note of the preliminary results” from Sunday’s presidential poll, Ashton’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a news briefing, adding that Ashton’s office shared concerns expressed by international observers led by the OSCE.

“Overall we share their assessment,” she said. “We are encouraging Russia to address these shortcomings.”

The OSCE said the campaign was skewed in favour of Putin and the ballot marred by procedural irregularities.

The spokeswoman quoted issues on registration and unequal access to electronic media while saying a more thorough statement would follow.

“As Russia is both a strategic partner and a neighbouring country (the EU) was following with particular interest both the election process and public debate,” she said.

Asked why the European Commission had yet to congratulate Putin on his victory, a spokeswoman for the EU executive said it was waiting for a fuller report on the outcome of the vote, adding: “First things first.”