Accessibility links

Russian President Demands Probe Of Regional Vote

Central Election Commission head Vladimir Churov

Central Election Commission head Vladimir Churov

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Central Election Commission to investigate alleged violations in last week's regional elections.

Russia's ruling party strengthened its position in the elections, but opposition parties said there had been widespread cheating.

"If there are signs of violations, they should be dealt with and looked at and perhaps some election laws and rules need to be changed," Medvedev was quoted by local news agencies as telling Central Election Commission chief Vladimir Churov.

Churov, a former colleague of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, had brushed aside opposition claims of widespread vote fraud earlier in the week saying that at best one percent of complaints were justified.

Churov told Medvedev there had been 303 complaints filed about the elections, the ruling party's first major electoral test since the onset of Russia's deepest economic crisis in at least a decade.

The ruling Unified Russia party increased its share of the vote in most of the nine elections to regional parliaments March 1. Turnout was officially up slightly at just over 55 percent.

The leader of the Communist Party said it was one of the dirtiest elections in recent Russian history.