Ashton and Buzek voice concern in aftermath of Duma election

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has voiced concern over the detention of hundreds of protesters demonstrating after Sunday's Duma elections and reports of police violence against activists, journalists and bystanders. In a statement issued on 6 December the High Representative recalled the need to respect freedom of assembly and expression.
The High Representative reiterated her support for the work of the OSCE / ODIHR election observation mission and its preliminary assessment, and said she expected Russian authorities to act on their findings.
In a separate statement, Catherine Ashton expressed concern over reports of procedural violations during the State Duma elections in Russia on 4 December, citing in particular  “lack of media impartiality, lack of separation between party and state, and the harassments of independent monitoring attempts.
Ashton said she had taken note of the outcome of the vote and of the preliminary conclusions by the international observers from the OSCE/ODIHR that the elections had been “technically well prepared and administered.” However, she insisted the issues raised in the preliminary findings as well as by local observers should be “addressed by Russian authorities to allow for smooth and fair Presidential elections in the spring."
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek pointed out that Russian people cared about their civic duties and rights, as illustrated by the high turnout. “They deserve a free, transparent and fair election process,” said Buzek on 7 December.
He expressed disappointment that the European Parliament had not been invited to observe the elections in Russia, and said he was alarmed by the partiality of the media, the frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulations during the vote count.
We need to move-up one gear in developing our EU-Russia bilateral relations,” said Buzek, adding: “We want our long-term cooperation to be based on democracy, the rule of law and freedom of expression." (ENPI Info Centre
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Ashton - Statement on detention of protesters
Ashton - Statement on procedural violations
Buzek - Statement
European External Action Service - Russia
ENPI Info Centre webpage – Russia

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