Russian president orders probe into election fraud

December 11, 2011

The Associated Press

(AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
A poster showing a manipulated photograph of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, saying, "No! 2050!"

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday that he has ordered a probe into the allegations of electoral fraud during the Dec. 4 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 gave instruction for a check of the reports of fraud. 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 disagrees 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 — on Dec. 24.

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

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