EU denounces Putin re-election ‘based on repression and intimidation’

The EU has denounced the increasing “systematic internal repression” of the political opposition, civil society organisations and independent media in Russia following Vladimir Putin’s re-election as president. 

Sunday's elections were “based on repression and intimidation”, European High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell said on Monday in a statement on behalf of the EU. He said there were no "free and fair elections" in Russia. 

Many candidates had been excluded from the ballot, including anyone speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Voters were thus “denied a real choice”, said Borrell, expressing regret that Moscow had not allowed representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to observe the election.

He added that the EU strongly condemned the organisation of elections in occupied Ukrainian regions and did not recognise the results in these areas. ​ 

"The election process showed Putin’s notorious crackdown on his own people"

According to the Election Commission, Putin won with 87.29 per cent of the vote. 77 per cent of eligible voters took part, a turnout not seen since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Borrell is meeting European Foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, when he hopes to get the green light for a 5 billion euro support fund for the Ukrainian army, the use of profits from blocked Russian assets to support Kyiv, and sanctions against those responsible for the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

“The election in Russia was an election without choice,” said German Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock. “The election process showed Putin’s notorious crackdown on his own people. Organising so-called elections in certain parts of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova violates international law.”

However, Chinese president Xi Jinping said the re-election of his Russian counterpart showed that he had the “full support” of his people. “In recent years, the Russian people have united to overcome challenges ... your re-election proves the Russians’ full support for you,” Chinese state television CCTV reported him as saying.

Vladimir Putin addresse the media at his campaign headquarters in Moscow, 18 March 2024 © NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / POOL / AFP

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