Britain urges Russian election probe

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Britain said Tuesday that the weekend election in Russia raised "several causes for concern", including a lack of fairness, and urged a rapid and transparent investigation.

Observers led by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, have said the vote was slanted in favour of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party United Russia.

"The preliminary assessment of the OCSE/ODIHR election observation mission on the Russian Duma elections has raised several causes for concern," Europe minister David Lidington said.

They included, in particular, "the convergence of the state and the governing party, limited political competition and a lack of fairness," he added.

"These conclusions underline the need for alleged electoral violations to be investigated rapidly and transparently, and to ensure that all democratic institutions -- including the media, civil society, and opposition political groups -- are able to operate freely in Russia."

Russia deployed troops in central Moscow and held opposition figures on Tuesday after an unprecedented protest against the election results.

© 2011 AFP

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