Medvedev orders probe into election fraud claims

AP , Sunday 11 Dec 2011

Russian president breaks two days of silence to announce official probe into widespread allegations of electoral fraud

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday ‎that he had ordered a probe into the allegations of ‎electoral fraud during the 4 December parliamentary ‎vote.‎

Tens of thousands rallied in Moscow and other cities ‎on Saturday in the largest anti-government protest in ‎Russia's post-Soviet history to protest the reported ‎fraud and demand the departure of Prime Minister ‎Vladimir Putin.‎

Medvedev on Sunday broke two days of silence by ‎posting a comment on his Facebook page.‎

‎"I disagree with the slogans as well as with the ‎speeches that were made at the rallies," he said, but ‎added that he had issued instructions for the fraud ‎reports to be checked. He did not mention who ‎would carry out the probe.‎

Medvedev's post generated over 1,000 mostly angry ‎comments within 50 minutes.‎

‎"Shame!" and "We don't believe you!" were the ‎most common.‎

Other Facebook users asked Medvedev whether he ‎really disagreed with the protest's main slogan, ‎‎"We're for fair elections." Some wrote that ‎Medvedev's message made them even more ‎determined to take part in the next planned rally ‎against electoral fraud slated for 24 December. ‎

Neither Medvedev nor Putin made any public ‎appearances over the weekend, although Putin ‎spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement that ‎the government "respects the point of view of the ‎protesters" and is "listening to what is being said."‎

Unlike Putin, the tech-savvy Medvedev, Russia's ‎president since 2008, has enjoyed some support ‎among an educated urban elite. But an ‎announcement in September that he would step ‎aside to let his mentor Putin run for a third term in ‎office has angered many Medvedev supporters.‎

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