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Estonian MEP leads call for EU not to recognize March Russian election

MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa/EPP) speaking during an EP plenary session regarding the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP). December 16, 2023.
MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa/EPP) speaking during an EP plenary session regarding the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP). December 16, 2023. Source: Mathieu Cugnot/European Parliament

More than two dozen MEPs from 15 countries are calling on the EU, its institutions and its member states not to recognize the legitimacy of the presidential election to be held in Russia next month, according to a joint appeal initiated by Estonian MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa/IPP) and cosigned by fellow Estonian MEP Jaak Madison (EKRE/ID), among others.

"The re-election of Vladimir Putin during these elections will be illegitimate," read the signees' letter to EU leaders, dated February 2. "Therefore, the European Union should not recognize the results of this election, and should not recognize Vladimir Putin as president of Russia after his inauguration."

The letter described Putin's regime as "criminal, corrupt, responsible for crimes against its own people, and responsible for countless illegal acts and crimes against humanity outside of the borders of the Russian Federation."

It noted that Russia's war against Ukraine has lasted for nearly a decade, during which time Putin's regime has occupied and annexed several areas of Ukrainian territory, and highlighted the fact that next month's election is slated to take place in these Russian-occupied territories as well.

"The organization of an election by the occupying force in the annexed and occupied territories is a criminal farce, the results of which cannot be considered legitimate," it stressed.

The MEPs also went on to outline how Putin had changed Russia's constitution in order to permanently secure himself the office of president, as well as how the state of democracy in Russia is "in ruins," with legislative powers and institutions designed to ensure the rule of law having been transformed into Putin's subsidiaries, free and independent media ceasing to exist, civil rights and freedoms being trampled, and the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly suppressed by threats of severe punishments.

"Elections held under these conditions are illegitimate without a doubt, and a dictator seeking to entrench his power with this kind of an election cannot be considered as legitimate head of state," they underlined.

Acknowledging the improbability of OSCE or other international observers being invited to monitor next month's election in the first place, the MEPs further stressed that it is "abundantly clear" that no such observers should be sent to do so either.

"Any kind of election observation, even if the assessment criticizes the process, will be used to try to legitimize this Russian presidential election, which is unacceptable," the signees said.

"We are convinced that the European Union, its institutions and its member states have to clearly express their position regarding the illegitimacy of the 2024 Russian presidential election, and should not recognize the leader of a criminal regime as a legitimately elected president," the letter concluded.

The joint appeal was addressed to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell.

It was signed by Terras, Madison and 27 other MEPs from Bulgaria, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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