The NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has congratulated Vladimir Putin on his re-election as President of the Russian Federation, praising the “tangible successes which NATO-Russia cooperation has produced over the last decade, especially related to Afghanistan, counter-narcotics and counter-piracy”. In his telephone call to the President-elect, Mr Rasmussen also mentioned his desire to “move forward” on missile defence, “as such cooperation would benefit both NATO and Russia”.
The President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, head of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas, President of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki, the President of Finland Sauli Niiniste and the President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski all called Mr Putin to congratulate him on his return to power.
Mr Putin was elected for a third term on 4th March 2012. Under the Russian constitution, Presidents may not serve more than one consecutive term and so Dimitri Medvedev served as President for an intervening term while Mr Putin served as Prime Minister.
The return to the leadership has seen Mr Putin criticised as a political strong man. The election in Russia was marred by accusations of vote rigging and irregularities at polling stations. In a visit to the Moscow State Law Academy on 6th March 2012, Mr Putin oversaw the work of the Observer Corps For Fair Elections and Citizens For Fair Elections. He commented:
“I want to thank you all for the work. This was important, of course, in order to ensure the election were honest and transparent. It is important to ensure that citizens feel that their will is objectively reflected in the outcome. But it is also very important (especially for you – here mostly lawyers) to improve our political system and the strengthening of Russian statehood in the truest sense of the word. Thank you very much for your work.”
Activists have vowed to protest the election result, though police intervention has been swift and decisive.