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Britain 'keen' to see Russian election reports


Britain is awaiting the reports of independent election observers “with interest” after Vladimir Putin claimed victory at the Russian polls.

The United Russia party leader told voters: “I promised you we would win, and we won” after exit polls put him on about 60% of the vote.

But the election has been dominated by allegations of widespread fraud with claims people are driven around by the busload to cast multiple votes.

The Foreign Office said the UK Government was keen to see the official reports of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which are due at around 2pm today.

A spokesman said: “We are waiting on the preliminary report of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission with interest.

“We fully support the important democratic elections in Russia as elsewhere in the world.

“As a Council of Europe member state Russia has an obligation to uphold key democratic norms and standards.”

Mr Putin's return to the Kremlin will be mark his third term as president and comes after one term as prime minister.

Police are braced for public disorder once the vote closes following unprecedented mass protests over Mr Putin's system of so-called “managed democracy”.

Former foreign secretary David Miliband branded Mr Putin a “ruthless” dictator whose days are numbered.

In an article for The Sun he warned it would be wrong to underestimate the “intelligent” leader but predicted he will not survive a six-year term at the Kremlin.

Mr Miliband wrote: “It is wrong to underestimate Putin. He is intelligent, worldly and ruthless.”

Relations between Britain and Russia reached breaking point after the murder in London of dissident critic Alexander Litvinenko but have been more cordial since Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to the nation last year.