Western leaders denounce Putin's 'illegal' election win as allies send congratulations

Author: Editors Desk Source: France 24
March 18, 2024 at 08:18
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on a visit to his campaign headquarters after the presidential election in Moscow, Russia on March 18, 2024. © Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on a visit to his campaign headquarters after the presidential election in Moscow, Russia on March 18, 2024. © Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP
Friends and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin were quick to congratulate him on his election win but Western leaders denounced what they called an illegal election.

Here is a round-up of the main reactions so far:

- Beijing congratulated Putin, saying "China and Russia are each other's largest neighbours and comprehensive strategic cooperative partners in the new era".

Foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian said President Xi Jinping and Putin "will continue to maintain close exchanges, lead the two countries to continue to uphold longstanding good-neighbourly friendship, deepen comprehensive strategic coordination".

- Former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev responded long before the final results were due to be announced, saying on Telegram: "I congratulate Vladimir Putin on his splendid victory in the election."

- Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said: "The Serb people welcomed with joy the victory of President Putin for they see in him a great statesman and a friend on whom we can always count and who will watch over our people."

- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said: "Our older brother has triumphed, which bodes well for the world."

- The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the election had not been free and fair and was based on repression and intimidation. Borrell added that the 27 EU nations would issue a joint statement on the election later on Monday.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the result as illegitimate. "Everyone in the world understands that this person, like many others throughout history, has become sick with power and will stop at nothing to rule forever," he said.

"There is no evil he would not do to maintain his personal power. And no one in the world would have been safeguarded from this."

France said the election took place amid "repression" and hailed the "many" Russians who demonstrated their opposition.

"The conditions for a free, pluralist and democratic election were not met," the French foreign ministry said, adding the three-day vote took place amid "increasing repression of civil society and all forms of opposition to the regime".

"France salutes the courage of the many Russian citizens who have peacefully demonstrated their opposition to this attack on their fundamental political rights," it added.

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock dismissed Putin's re-election as a vote "without choice" after all genuine opposition was crushed. 

The election process shows "Putin's heinous behaviour against his own people", Baerbock said at a meeting in Brussels. "The election in Russia was an election without a choice."

- Britain's Foreign Minister 
David Cameron said the "illegalelections featured "a lack of choice for voters and no independent OSCE monitoring", adding: "This is not what free and fair elections look like".

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the "elections were neither free nor fair".

"We are continuing to work for a just peace that will bring Russia to put an end to the war of aggression against Ukraine, in accordance with international law."

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky called the election a "farce and parody". He said: "This was the Russian presidential election that showed how this regime suppresses civil society, independent media, opposition."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP & Reuters)

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