Lithuania urges Russia to investigate election violations, reiterates position on Crimea
Lithuania's authorities urge Russia to investigate violations recorded in the run-up to and during last Sunday's State Duma polls and underline that the elections do not change their attitude to Russia's actions toward Ukraine.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė's chief foreign policy advisor says that Lithuania, like, for example, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is calling on Russia to address election shortcomings.
"There were elements in the election process that adversely affected the entire election environment. We are speaking about restrictions to fundamental freedoms and rights, controlled media and certain constraints on civil society, as well as certain irregularities and shortcomings regarding candidate registration and legal framework," Nerijus Aleksiejūnas said on the Žinių Radijas radio station on Tuesday.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, in turn, on Tuesday expressed "its strong concern over violations, which were committed during the phase of preparation and during the elections" and called on "the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation to immediately look into these violations, as well as to take action against them".
Both the presidential advisor and the ministry stressed that Lithuania stood firm on its position regarding Russia's policy toward Crimea.
"Once again we firmly note that we consider the Russian Federation's elections for the State Duma in Crimea, which was illegally annexed and occupied at the beginning of 2014, illegal and we shall not recognize these results," the ministry said in a statement.
"We strongly condemn this and other violations of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty by the Russian Federation. This is the reason why the European Union and its international partners have imposed restrictive measures against Russia and individual persons," it said.
Nerijus Aleksiejūnas said, "Our position is not changing regardless of the elections and their results. Our position remains that we have never recognized and will not recognize the occupation and annexation of the Crimea."
"Actually, until Russia fully implements the Minsk agreements, it is difficult to speak about any return to business as usual," the advisor added.
President Vladimir Putin's political party United Russia won more than 54 percent of votes in the polls.
OSCE observers have said that the elections were more transparent than before, but "If Russia is to live up to its democratic commitments, greater space is needed for debate and civic engagement".