«A lot to say, to think about and to discuss.
In the mutual interest of Russia and Europe»
1. Were the elections free and fair?
I donít think so and I said so already 3 weeks ago in the pre-election mission.
But you know, we are neither giver of points nor want we to fall into the trap of a perception of a complex reality which you can not catch with such simple analysis. We showed in our statement that the will of the people is to continue the Putins government, 70% agreed already well in advance to be ready to support the person he proposes and on the same time 45 % of these people are sure that the process of elections do not deserve their trust. We show, that the majorities will is clear but that these elections did not match the potential the russian society would offer for democracy.
What were the main irregularities?
The same as in the Duma election. But elections are much more than the voting da; the whole process was too exclusive and left too many citizens with elections which did not offer the real and serious choices.
What about freedom of the press in pre-election time?
Many newspapers can offer pluralism, as well as Radio Echo Moscow as well as books. But too few of the 120 Million of voters read and listen to them. To many only make up their mind based on the bis TV channels and there you looked in vain for pluralism and alternative info and really good debates.
Where is the Russian democracy going?
We need a public independent TV and a really independent juridical system as the chairmen of the constitutional and the supreme court in the sense of the jurisdiction of the Strassburg Court also ask for. Then a real opposition also will be able to make up political ground and compete with the Kremlin people.
Back to old Soviet authoritarian times?
No never. You who know the real past know that the authoritarian oligarchic presence is something different and irreversibly different.
Sergey Kovalev is for example writing about antidemocratic revolution in Russia.
After 2004 we may observe a democratic regression and exclusion; this is exactly what we also criticize. But regression does not yet mean revolution. Regressions can also be rechanged to the better again.
Are the results of high turnout in Caucasus (Chechnya for example) real and fair?
I donít think so. But Russia is not Chechnya and much more than the Caucasus, although the Caucasus is partly Russian. We should stop thinking in black and white terms. Russians are also extremely pragmatic and less philosophical radical as we; but when you need food and are very much afraid from tomorrow and the current rulers you lack the space for philosophy ...
PACE Observer Mission was the only one in this elections. Where have you been?
We observed 150 Polling stations in 3 regions. We were geographically modest but nevertheless democratically outspoken.
Did you ask for meeting with Medvedev?
Of course. But he had no time for us. I will propose to the Bureau to make a post-electoral mission and then I hope he will find time for us too.
Did you talk with opposition (Kasparov for example)?
Of course, we had meetings with Kasjanow, with Jablinski and also with the head of the Union of Right Forces. I gave also in the Nov Gaz a encouraging interview referring myself to them.
Is the boycott of OSCE Mission good or bad for Russia?
Odhir did not boycott the election. You can not make a long term observation in 2 weeks, You need 6, 8 or 10 weeks. Thatís why I understand their position. But we had another mission which we could fulfill.
Will PACE debate the Russian elections on April Session?
Of course as always.
You've been criticized by Russian side (also by Kosachov) for your interview in Nezavisimaya gazeta before elections. What's your comment?
Now they see it a little bit calmer. In this interview I explained what was obviously overlooked in our pre-electoral mission. It seems that not everybody reads our statements as carefully as we write them. Then you have to explain more. But criticism is normal in a democratic relation and a ground where everybody is able to learn from.
Who will actually rule Russia by your opinion: Medvedev or Putin?
The president, based on his constitutional powers. But the PM will have more power than until now because of the personality of Putin. I am sure that they will rule together. This is not my fear: I hope that both let participate also the parliament, the ministers and the citizens themselves to rule themselves as this is normal and necessary in a democracy. Because we are looking for freedom, not for rulers.
Will Putin come to Strasbourg in April?
I donít know. I would invite now at least also Medwedjew - both together would be the best discussion partners for the Assembly and for at least 4 hours. There would be a lot to say, to think about and to discuss. In the mutual interest of Russia and Europe.