WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Tuesday after Russia held parliamentary elections:
“Russians went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament. For the first time, elections were also held on the illegally-occupied territory of Crimea in violation of international law and Ukrainian sovereignty. Holding elections in illegally-occupied Crimea is just the most recent example of the Russian Federation’s willingness to flout its obligations under bilateral and multilateral agreements.
“For years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has worked to silence any opposition voices who yearn for real democracy inside Russia, violating international democratic and human rights norms. Yesterday’s sham elections once again showed that political plurality and criticism of the United Russia Party will not be tolerated. I call on the international community to reject the results of this election, as the Putin regime continues to make a mockery of the democratic process. Moving forward, the international community should consider strengthening sanctions against Russia for its continued occupation of Crimea and destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine.”