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Obama Statement on Russian Presidential Elections


Location: Chicago, IL

Obama Statement on Russian Presidential Elections

"Yesterday, Russians went to the polls to elect a new president and begin the process of a peaceful transition of power in the Kremlin. Against the backdrop of hundreds of years of autocratic rule, Dmitri Medvedev's election as Russia's next president may appear to represent progress. Against the backdrop of Russia's more recent experiment with democracy, this election was a tragic step backwards. Medvedev won easily in part because a very popular Putin selected him, but also in part because genuine opposition candidates were not allowed on the ballot, Kremlin-loyal television networks flooded the airwaves with positive coverage of Medvedev, and the entire state apparatus was mobilized to produce votes for Putin's candidate. The election was the least competitive in Russia's post-communist history.

The United States, however, will need to work with President Medvedev on a range of issues of common concern, such as preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists, addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions, reducing our nuclear arsenals, and securing stable supplies of oil and gas from Russia. But engagement with President Medvedev and his government must not lead us to turn a blind eye to democratic erosion inside Russia. On the campaign trail, Medvedev himself hinted that he wanted to strengthen the rule of law, independent media, and Russia's embrace of political freedom. All true friends of the Russian people should encourage him to keep his word."

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