VILNIUS (Reuters) - Russia took a swipe at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday over her criticism of its parliamentary election, saying it was “not Hyde Park” where speakers could just arrive, hold forth and leave without listening to others.
Clinton, visiting Lithuania on Tuesday for a meeting of security body the OSCE, cited serious concerns about the weekend election to the State Duma (lower house of parliament).
“This is not Hyde Park, this is not Triumfalnaya (Triumph) Square in Moscow, where speakers arrive to pour out their soul and then turn around and leave, not listening to others,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
He was referring to London’s Hyde Park and its famed “Speakers’ Corner” and to the square in Moscow that was the site of Tuesday’s protest over the parliamentary election.
Lavrov said Clinton’s actions showed “disrespect” to the 56-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has been holding a two-day meeting in Vilnius.
“Several of my colleagues prefer to use this tribune to complain (about issues) completely unrelated to the agenda as was the case with my colleague Hillary Clinton, who arrived, it seems, only to impress her voters in the Democratic party.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday dismissed the U.S. criticism as unacceptable and urged Moscow’s ex-Cold War enemy to refrain from such “hostile attacks” in future.
Lavrov said Russia would prefer to resolve issues through a dialogue instead of using multinational meetings to vent criticism of each other.
International observers said after the Sunday’s election for the Duma that they had seen some ballot stuffing and that the vote was unfairly slanted in favour of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling party.
President Dmitry Medvedev, who is stepping aside next year to allow for Putin’s return to the top seat of power for the world’s largest energy producer, has rejected allegations of fraud, calling the vote “fair, honest and democratic.” [ID:nL5E7N542H]
Reporting By Aleks Tapinsh; Editing by Mark Heinrich