Russia's March 2012 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications [March 14, 2012] [open pdf - 249KB]
"Challenges to Russia's democratic development have long been of concern to Congress as it has considered the course of U.S.-Russia cooperation. The Obama Administration has been critical of the apparently flawed Russian presidential election which took place on March 4, 2012, but has called for continued engagement with Russia and newly elected President Vladimir Putin on issues of mutual strategic concern. Some in Congress also have criticized the conduct of the election, but have endorsed continued engagement, while others have called for stepping back and reevaluating the Administration's engagement policy. Congress may consider the implications of another Putin presidency, lagging democratization, and human rights abuses in Russia as it debates possible future foreign assistance and trade legislation and other aspects of U.S.-Russia relations. […] According to the final report of the CEC [Central Electoral Commission], Putin won 63.6% of 71.8 million votes cast, somewhat less than the 71.3% he had received in his last presidential election in 2004. In their preliminary report, monitors led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concluded that the election was well organized but that there were several problems. Although the report did not state outright that the election was 'not free and fair,' some of the monitors at a press conference stated that they had not viewed it as free and fair. According to the report, Prime Minister Putin received an advantage in media coverage, and authorities mobilized local officials and resources to garner support for Putin. The OSCE monitors witnessed irregularities in vote-counting in nearly one-third of the 98 polling stations visited and in about 15% of 72 higher-level territorial electoral commissions."
CRS Report for Congress, R42407