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Rights Groups Blast Clinton Statement On Russian Vote

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during her meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin outside Moscow in March 2010.
MOSCOW -- A group of major Russian human rights organizations has criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her response to Russia's March 4 presidential election.

In comments earlier this week, Clinton said Vladimir Putin was the "clear winner" of the vote, and that Washington is prepared to work with Putin during his upcoming third presidential term.

Clinton also called for an independent investigation of electoral irregularities.

In a joint statement on March 9, Russian human rights groups denouced Clinton's comments as insulting to "fighters for fair elections."

They said the words "clear winner" could not be used regarding Putin because of the alleged rigging of the vote in his favor.

The rights groups include the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Social Partnership Foundation, the Memorial Human Rights Center.

With and reporting