Another democratic partner of the Russian Federation doubts about the transparency of the forthcoming elections to the State Duma. The U.S. White House supported the OSCE’s decision not to send observers to Russia’s polling stations on December 2, when Russia elects its parliament.
The U.S. State Department expressed its regret saying that actions of the Russian government laid the foundation of such a decision and urged Moscow to be more lenient during the presidential election in March, 2008. U.S. officials also asked Russia to let the Bureau for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) fulfill its duty accordingly. “We understand that the OSCE came across unexpected restrictions, including the number of observers and the time of their staying in Russia,” a statement from the State Department said.
It is worth mentioning that Washington believes that those restrictions were made deliberately to make the European observers eventually disregard the Russian elections. The U.S. State Department Press-Secretary Sean McCormack said: “It is a pity that the Russian government raises so many difficulties for mission of the OSCE. I do not think that that there can be another example found in history when a member of the organization could put up so many obstacles on observers’ way,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin administration rejects the accusations. Moreover, Russian officials lay the blame on the OSCE itself. An official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mikhail Kamynin, said that it was not Moscow that hampers the observers’ activities in Russia, but the OSCE authorities themselves. “If there was something that prevented the observers from coming to Russia it was the confusion in the Bureau and the ignorant work of its authorities. The ODIHR believes that there is nothing else in the world but the schemes that they designed. When it comes to something different, they regard it as “restrictions,” Kamynin said. The Russian diplomat also stated that the head of ODIHR, Christian Strohal, announced his decision right after his visit to Washington.
The Central Electoral Commission also expressed its indignation about the decision of the U.S. administration to support OSCE in its boycott of the parliamentary elections in Russia. “We did everything possible but ODIHR ignored Russia’s invitations,” a spokesman for the Commission said.
At the same time, the Russian opposition approved the OSCE’s decision to ignore the elections.
It is worth mentioning that the OSCE-ODIHR is one of the most authoritative organizations monitoring democratic processes in the world. The Western world would use the report of this organization to give its estimation of the Russian elections. As long as there is no report, the estimation will most likely not be very pleasant for the Russian administration.
Translated by Margarita Snegireva