Putin Wins
Vladimir Putin claimed a clear and honest victory

Russia's presidential election was "clearly skewed" in favour of Vladimir Putin, according to the world's largest regional security organisation.

Acting as an independent election observer the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) criticised the conditions of the election.

It claimed that Putin, who won with nearly 65 percent, of the vote had a clear advantage because of his tight grip over state-run television networks.

It acknowledged allegations of corruption and claimed that voter confidence was affected by "procedural irregularities".

"There were serious problems from the very start of this election," said Tonino Picula, head of the delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

"The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt."

Tiny Kox, head of the delegation of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, claimed that although the election found a clear winner, voters' choices were "limited", electoral competition "lacked fairness" and an impartial referee was missing.

"Due to increased citizen's awareness and involvement elections were more lively, better managed and more seriously observed, whereas structural improvements in electoral regulation were proposed to parliament - but not yet passed," he said.

Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, head of the election observation mission of the OSCE office for democratic institutions and human rights, said "widespread mistrust" remained in the election process, despite government attempts to increase transparency through live web cameras.

Video clips of alleged ballot fixing have been made online, with clips spreading across social media appearing to show people voting multiple times.

The OSCE has received more than 3,000 reports of election fraud and calculated Putin's share of the vote to have been 50 percent.
"As a first step, all allegations of electoral violations need to be thoroughly investigated. In an encouraging development, we have seen a great number of citizens taking part in overseeing the election," said Tagliavini.

"Their active involvement can be a powerful vehicle for increasing confidence in future elections."

Speaking after his win was announced, Putin claimed that the victory showed that "no-one can force anything on us".