U.S. concerned over possible Russia vote fraud

BONN, Germany - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the United States has "serious concerns" about the conduct of Russia's parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party saw its majority in Russia's parliament weaken sharply, according to preliminary election results released Monday.

Some opposition politicians and election monitors said that even a result of around 50 percent for Putin's United Russia party was inflated because of vote fraud. Their claims were backed by international observers, as Clinton noted during remarks in Bonn, Germany.

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She said her opinion matters less than that of Russian voters, whom she says deserve the right to know their votes were fairly cast and counted.

Clinton said that international monitors have raised questions about possible ballot-stuffing and manipulation of voter lists "and other troubling practices."

She said Washington is also concerned that internal Russian election monitors were harassed, including by cyber attacks on their web sites.

"Russian voters deserve a full investigation of all credible reports of electoral fraud and manipulation and we hope in particular that then Russian authorities will take action" on reports that come forward, Clinton said.

She said, "The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. That means they deserve free, fair, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them."

She travels next to Lithuania for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors election fraud.

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