Elections in Russia

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has won the presidential election in Russia with a clear majority in the first round of voting. The Russian electoral commission has officially announced that Putin is the winner. On 5 March in Berlin, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that the German Government wants to “continue and expand the strategic partnership with Russia” after the election there.

According to electoral commission results, Putin received almost 64 percent of the ballots cast in the first round of voting. The Communist candidate, Zyuganov, received around 17 percent of the vote, while the other candidates, Prokhorov, Zhirinovsky, and Mironov, were in the single digits. Putin will probably take up his position as president at the beginning of May and suggest a new prime minister. Foreign Minister Westerwelle said: “We are ready to work together closely with the new Russian leadership in an atmosphere of trust within the framework of a strategic partnership.”

The election observers’ assessment

There are, however, doubts about how the election was conducted. In a preliminary statement, the international election observers sent by the OSCE have criticized that the election was held under conditions that were clearly skewed in Putin’s favour. He dominated media coverage, for example. During the vote count there were procedural irregularities in nearly one-third of polling stations.

According to Westerwelle, these assessments show that Russia “still has a long way to go on the road to rule of law and democracy”. He assumed “that all reports of irregularities will be investigated”, saying that it was in Russia’s own interest to investigate accusations and clear them up thoroughly.

Partners for modernization

St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin

St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin
© picture-alliance/ITAR-TASS

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St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin

St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin

St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin

Germany has a long-term, broad interest in cooperating with Russia. Germany is especially active within the framework of the “modernization partnership” with Russia. This includes the dialogue on the rule of law. The German Foreign Minister pointed out that this was a contribution towards supporting the forces of society that wanted renewal.

There is also close cooperation on security policy. “We want to organize and improve security in Europe, (...) not against Russia, but with Russia,” Westerwelle said. This was important, he added, with a view to the NATO summit on 20 May in Chicago, in which Russia will participate as a partner of the Atlantic Alliance. Without integrating Russia tightly, it would not be possible to find sensible solutions to “current security issues”, said Westerwelle.

“Clear view” of the situation in Syria

Russia is also needed as a partner on other international issues, the reaction to changes taking place in the Arab world, for example. Foreign Minister Westerwelle expressed his hope that after the end of the election campaign the Russian position on Syria could be reconsidered and that Russia now has a “clear view” to see that it is still “on the wrong side of history”. The people in Syria standing up for democracy and their freedom needed the solidarity of the international community, he continued.

Earlier, Minister of State Michael Georg Link had spoken with the broadcaster SWR2 on the election in Russia and indications of manipulation. He said that a “frank discussion among friends” must be possible, especially because Russia remained “an important partner and neighbour” for Germany. Having taken on new forms with protests and election observer training in the run up to voting, civil society might be the election’s real victor according to Link.

Last updated 05.03.2012

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