300+ monitor Russian poll; OSCE skips

More than 300 international observers, from 32 countries, are monitoring Russia's election, but Europe's main election watchdog is boycotting it. In 2004 and for last year's parliamentary poll the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

This time, the watchdog says the number of observers and length of time they were allowed to work in the country were too limited.

“The invitation that we received has very serious limitations both in terms of the number of observers and the time they were allowed to be present, which simply does not give us enough time to perform effective observation,” said Curtis Budden, ODIHR Acting Spokesperson.

But Russia has made it clear that its invitation for 400 monitors meets international standards.

“The Russian side consented and suggested to 25 observers arriving this week and and the rest of them on February, 25. Our proposal was denied. The Office insisted it will not send its observers to Russia unless Moscow accepts its demands. This is an ultimatum a self-respecting country cannot accept,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

While the OSCE is boycotting this election many in the West may be wondering how they could possibly be free and fair.

But there are other International organizations and many foreign observers monitoring the poll.

Among them, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has sent around 30. Despite the dispute with the OSCE they seem to feel positive about the vote.

“Well I can only speak in my personal name and not as a member of PACE since we are going to give a press-release when the election is over. But my impression is that if you do have four candidates from different spectres then the citizens do have a choice,” believes PACE observer Donka Banovic.

There are also 100 observers from CIS countries working in around 40 Russian regions.