WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today criticizing the election held in Russia this weekend:

“The so-called election this weekend in Russia was a sham, rigged by President Vladimir Putin to secure for himself another term of complete control over the Russian state, which is no longer a true democracy.  Those who turned out to vote did so amid an atmosphere of extreme intimidation and the curtailment of freedom to express dissent.  The nation’s one-sided media, under Putin’s thumb, engaged in a sustained campaign of delegitimization of the opposition and glorification of the incumbent.  By hand-picking his opponents and using Russia’s corrupt court system to invalidate the candidacies of legitimate challengers, Putin ensured that this election’s outcome would never be in doubt.  Sadly, the continued rule of Putin will likely only lead to further decline in Russia’s economy and greater isolation from the rest of the world.

“As a former chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I saw firsthand the yearning of Russians to move past the autocratic days of Soviet Communism and build a future for themselves in democracy.  They longed for an end to living under the false choice of security against perceived enemies or a freedom to strive for their full potential and express their views.  Today, Putinism has replaced Communism; however, censorship, assassination of dissidents, and corruption by a cadre of elites are as rampant today as they were under the banner of Lenin and Stalin.  Russians deserve a chance to reach for the better future they were promised when Communism fell.  I hope they will demand an end to Putin’s corrupt and undemocratic rule and the free and open elections they deserve.”