By Svetlana Kalmykova
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described as ‘disrespectful’ US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s critical remarks on the December 4 parliamentary elections in Russia. Urging his US counterpart to utter criticism in the format of a dialogue, Lavrov lamented Clinton’s using the rostrum of the Organization for Security and Cooperation as a means to court voters and obtain political points ahead of the presidential elections in the US.
Speaking at a session of the OSCE’s foreign ministers in Vilnius on Tuesday, Clinton lambasted last week’s parliamentary polls in Russia which she said were “neither free nor fair.” The Russian Foreign Ministry called her statement “unacceptable.”
Lavrov, for his part, emphasized that Clinton’s statement was nothing but a sign of disrespect toward the OSCE. “This is not the aim of our convening at what is known as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” Lavrov said. “The OSCE is not a place for holding rallies. This is neither Hyde Park neither Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square. This is not a place for speechmakers to talk and then go away, “Lavrov added.
“Regrettably,” he says, “some of my colleagues prefer to come and use this rostrum to make critical remarks which are completely out of line with the agenda. This was also the case with my colleague Hillary Clinton who seems to have arrived at the Vilnius gathering to once again woo her voters and those of the Democratic Party. It appears that she wanted to show that they are tough guys. She left Vilnius right after her speech at the gathering with other foreign ministers following suit, something that once again confirms the fact that the OSCE remains, I would say, in a critical condition,” Lavrov concludes.
The Russian delegation hoped that the Vilnius gathering would breathe new life into the OSCE, in line with the relevant agreement adopted during last year’s OSCE summit in Astana. The first day of the ministerial meeting showed, however, that the OSCE’s reform is unlikely to be implemented. To avoid a diplomatic showdown, the Russian delegation refrained from responding in kind to Clinton’s criticism immediately. Russian diplomats just warned their Western colleagues against interfering into third countries’ domestic affairs and using double standards.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, for his part, stressed on Tuesday that the political system is a country’s internal affair and that this issue is not up foreign partners’ alley. Vladimir Churov, head of the Russian Central Elections Commission, in turn urged the US Secretary of State to pay attention to her country’s presidential elections slated for November 2012.