Medvedev orders an investigation into allegations of voting fraud


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The Independent Online

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation into allegations of voting fraud yesterday, in an attempt to quell public discontent a day after tens of thousands protested in Moscow.

"I disagree with the slogans and statements heard at the meetings," Mr Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page yesterday. "Nevertheless, I have given the order that all cases from polling stations that suggest electoral law may have been broken should be investigated."

The Russian protests have been coordinated online using social networks, and it was soon apparent that a lot of people were unconvinced by Mr Medvedev's words.

Within two hours, the Facebook post had received over 3,000 mostly negative and often insulting comments. Many expressed cynicism that the investigation would have any real weight. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose United Russia party won 49 per cent of the vote in the election, initially suggested the protests were organised by America. But yesterday his spokesman Dmitry Peskov was conciliatory: "We respect the point of view of the protesters, we are hearing what is being said."

Evgeniya Chirikova, an activist prominent in the opposition movement, published an appeal to Mr Putin yesterday.

"Any self-respecting person in this situation should answer the accusations," she said. "The people of Russia and the whole world are waiting for your explanation."