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Election Watchdog Group Cancels Russia Mission

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tekisui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:38 AM
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Election Watchdog Group Cancels Russia Mission
MOSCOW, Nov. 16 Western election observers on Friday pulled out of a mission to monitor Russias Dec. 2 parliamentary vote, citing restrictions imposed by the Kremlin on their work.

The cancellation by the election-monitoring arm of the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe means the elections being held by President Vladimir V. Putins government may not be seen as legitimate by Western Europe and the United States.

The groups decision to withdraw from the monitoring mission was the first such occurrence in Russia since the country undertook to hold free and fair elections and to allow access for observers to monitor them in 1990, as the Soviet Union was disintegrating. It will probably be seen as another breach between the government of Mr. Putin and the West.

The group, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or O.D.I.H.R., cited what it called unacceptable Russian demands to limit the missions size, making it impossible to determine whether the elections are marred by fraud. It also noted the failure on the part of the Russian authorities to issue visas for its advance team, with only two weeks to go before the vote. The Warsaw-based group said in a statement that Russia had so curtailed its work that it would be unable to deliver its mandate under these circumstances.

(snip)

The Dec. 2 election is the first since Mr. Putin forced through a measure in 2004 that gave him the power to replace popular elections of governors with Kremlin appointments and prohibited candidates from running for Parliament independent of a political party. Mr. Putins government has broken up street protests, outlawed nongovernmental organizations, harassed opposition political parties and used election law to prevent opponents from organizing.

His party, United Russia, is expected to win an overwhelming majority in the Dec. 2 vote.

Konstantin I. Kosachev, the head of the international affairs committee in Russias Parliament and a member of United Russia, said Friday it would not be so tragic to be rid of the observers. Its obvious these so-called experts did not find any serious basis to fault our legislation and our elections for parliament, Mr. Kosachev said, according to the Russian news agency Regnum. They tried to raise a fuss without cause. In my opinion, the scandal has failed. What of it if these observers do not come to our country? Dont be so tragic about it.



Another ally marching to a dictatorship.

link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/17/world/europe/17russia...

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