No foreign observers for Russian Prez polls?

The Russian Central Election Commission may not invite international observers to the presidential elections in March reports claimed on Wednesday.

Moscow: The Russian Central Election Commission may not invite international observers to the presidential elections in March following critical remarks made by such observers after the recent parliamentary polls, a Russian business daily has said.

The Kommersant newspaper said the election commission was disappointed with remarks by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) about the Dec 4 parliamentary elections.

OSCE officials, who gave a press conference a day after the elections, said the polls were slanted in favour of the ruling United Russia party, that the election administration lacked independence, most media were partial and state authorities interfered unduly at different levels.

The OSCE`s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) -- which was responsible for organising the observation mission at the polls -- is going to send at least 200 observers to Russia but it has not received an invitation from Moscow yet, ODIHR spokesman Jens Eschenbaecher told Kommersant.

"We would like to send the same number of observers to Russia for the presidential elections as to the parliamentary polls. Sure, if we receive an invitation. We would like to receive it on time, two months prior to the elections in order to have time to start a long-term mission," the paper quoted Eschenbaecher as saying.
Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Election Commission, said the commission would decide whether to invite the observers or not after the ODIHR unveils the detailed report about the parliamentary elections.

The ODIHR report is due to be published in January.

The daily, however, said the report does not contain the words "falsification" or "juggling", referring to the election procedure.
"Thus our elections are recognized as legitimate by default. It is the most important thing," Kommersant quoted an unnamed official from the foreign ministry as saying.

The results of the parliamentary polls have already sparked a wave of strong criticism from thousands of Russians who went to the streets to protest against the alleged violations that gave the United Russia party a small majority, leading them to victory in the elections.

Russian authorities deny massive fraud. President Dmitry Medvedev, however, has asked for a probe into the allegations.


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