Russia's election Magician pans "undemocratic" U.S. vote
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Voters will choose a president next week using a flawed and undemocratic system, says the man known as "The Magician" by opposition leaders over his stewardship of Russian elections they say were marred by fraud.
"The U.S. presidential election is not direct, not universal and not equal, and it does not safeguard the secrecy of voting," Vladimir Churov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who heads Russia's Central Election Commission, wrote in the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
"The electoral system and electoral laws in the United States are far from perfect. They are contradictory, archaic and do not correspond to the democratic principles the United States has declared as the basis of its foreign and domestic politics."
Churov has dismissed allegations of widespread fraud in a parliamentary election won by Putin's party last December and says the president's victory in a presidential election last March reflected the popular will.
The conduct of elections in Russia, which emerged from decades of communist rule in 1991, has regularly been criticized by foreign observers, including from Europe and the United States.
But Churov, turning the tables on Russia's critics, said faults in the U.S. electoral system included the methods of registering and identifying voters, insufficient election monitoring and questionable mechanisms of casting ballots.
Russian officials remain sensitive to U.S. criticism of Moscow's domestic policies and are not slow to respond in kind when the opportunity arises, despite attempts by U.S. President Barack Obama - in a tight re-election race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney - to reset ties four years ago.
The former Cold War foes still disagree on a number of issues ranging from the conflict in Syria to missile defense.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Jon Boyle)
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