This coming Saturday, people throughout Russia plan to take to the streets to demonstrate for free and fair presidential elections on 4 March.
Andreas Schockenhoff, Coordinator of German-Russian Intersocietal Cooperation, has issued the following statement on events in Russia:
“I support the demands of Russian citizens for free and fair elections. This includes the option of a second-round run off, which is increasingly likely in the case of the presidential elections on 4 March. Such a run off would not, as Prime Minister Putin has claimed, lead to “unstable political conditions”. Rather, it would strengthen political competition and Russia’s democratic development.
Moreover, the fact that the election fraud committed during the Duma elections has not yet been addressed gives cause for concern. Those responsible for the election manipulations are still in office. They, too, must be held accountable under the law.
This gives rise to fears that these forces will use their “experience” with manipulating the Duma elections during the forthcoming election on 4 March to prevent a run off. The Russian leadership therefore has to do everything to ensure that the presidential elections are free and fair.
The Russian leadership needs the cooperation of all citizens if it is to eliminate the “systematic corruption”, “deindustrialization” and “dependency on raw materials” lamented by Putin. The most active and committed citizens are taking to the streets on Saturday to demand their political rights: democratic participation, political competition and transparency. The demonstrators will have to be treated with respect, a new dialogue between state and society will have to be initiated and the presidential elections will have to be free and fair if the support of these people is to be won.”