Mar 5, 2012 6:50 AM by Kate Richards
MOSCOW (AP) - The head of the major international election observer mission in Russia says there were "serious problems" in the vote that returned Vladimir Putin to the presidency.
Tonino Picula said in a statement Monday that "there was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt."
Picula headed the short-term observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
A brief synopsis of the mission's findings did not address Russian independent observers' contentions that there were widespread cases of people casting multiple ballots, but said the election "process deteriorated during the vote count, which was assessed negatively in almost one-third of polling stations observed."