Lithuanian formin slams Russia's 'sham' election as 'tragic farce'

  • 2024-03-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Monday denounced Russia's "sham" presidential election, staged amid unprecedented restrictions of civil and political rights, as "a tragic farce".

"Law cannot arise from lawlessness, and internationally respectable legitimacy cannot arise from coercion, oppression and fraud," he said in a statement. "Therefore, we do not consider and do not call this falsified and sham procedure an election, because unfortunately it is more like a tragic farce." 

The preliminary results of the weekend's presidential election show Vladimir Putin winning some 87 percent of the vote, a record result. 

According to Lithuania's top diplomat, the voting was neither free nor fair, nor did it meet any universally recognized standards of democracy and the rule of law.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Monday also issued a statement on "the imitation of elections in Russia".

"As Russia continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, the Russian authorities, which organized the imitation of an election procedure, took indiscriminate reprisals and unlawful actions against the opposition and representatives of the civil society, suppressed the voice of the independent media, and, in breach of international commitments, failed to invite observers from the OSCE/ODIHR to monitor the elections," the ministry said.

"The death of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny under mysterious circumstances in the Russian Arctic prison just before this sham election that has shocked the world, the unjustified imprisonment of other political opponents of the regime, the persecution of people who hold different opinions in Russia and even abroad – all of this reaffirms the Russian Government’s desire to silence anyone who dares to fight for freedom and democracy," it said.

"The new 'mandate' for Vladimir Putin under these circumstances lacks any democratic legitimacy."

The ministry also said that Lithuania, along with the European Union as a whole, does not recognize and will never recognize the results of Russia's "fake" election in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories. 

"Lithuania also strongly condemns the bogus procedure in the Russian occupied regions of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova, organized against the will and without the consent of the governments there. This is yet another despicable assault on the sovereignty of neighboring countries," it said.

Putin faced no genuine competition in the presidential election. All of the 71-year-old's major opponents are dead, in prison or exiled, and the crackdown in Russia continues on anyone who publicly opposes his rule or Moscow's war in Ukraine.

The former KGB agent has led Russia as president or prime minister since December

1999, and the weekend's election will keep him in power until at least 2030.