Western observers criticized Russia's weekend presidential election on Monday saying it was not fully fair or democratic, but said its outcome broadly reflected the will of the people.

President Vladimir Putin's hand-picked candidate, Dmitry Medvedev, won the ballot by a landslide on Sunday. Russia's liberals criticized the election as a farce, saying it was stage-managed by the Kremlin from the outset.

The results of the presidential election ... are a reflection of the will of an electorate whose democratic potential was unfortunately not tapped, said Andreas Gross, head of a monitoring group from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

He told reporters the outcome of the election amounted, in effect, to a vote of confidence in the incumbent president, adding most of the flaws seen in Russia's parliamentary election last December were repeated.

Equal access of candidates to media has not improved, Gross said.

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) refused to monitor Sunday's election, citing a lack of official cooperation.