Russia welcomes electoral observers

Election posters in Moscow streets (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)
In addition to ordinary polling stations, international observers of the State Duma elections will be able to visit ballot facilities in prisons, nursing homes, as well as polling stations at military units and in far-away regions.

­The chairman of Russia’s lower house, Boris Gryzlov, made the statement during a meeting with the head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Petros Efthimiou.

“If necessary, observers can visit polling stations abroad to see how Russians vote there,” Gryzlov added.

It is expected that around 100 observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will monitor the election on December 4.

Petros Efthimiou arrived in Moscow to discuss technical details of the observer work.

During the talks, Boris Gryzlov expressed satisfaction over the fact that OSCE mission will be headed by Petros Efthimiou.

He also informed the head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly that apart from his organization, Russia invited members of  PACE, the Nordic Council, the CIS and EurAsEC.

The State Duma chairman said he was certain that missions of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and Parliamentary Assembly will work in accordance with co-operation agreement signed in 1997.

“Russia is interested in holding free, transparent and fare elections,” Gryzlov stressed.

While Efthimiou stated that “the task of international observers is not to judge anyone but to secure free and honest elections.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Central Election Commission (CEC) registered the election list of the ruling United Russia party. It includes 597 candidates. The document was submitted by President Dmitry Medvedev, who is the lead candidate on the United Russia ticket. CEC Chairman Vladimir Churov handed him an endorsement affirming he is now a parliamentary candidate.

Dmitry Medvedev expressed hope that the election will be organized “at the highest level”.

“The United Russia Party enjoys quite high support of our voters,” Medvedev stated. “But certainly the main struggle is ahead. All parliamentary parties have been registered, non-parliamentary parties are now collecting signatures to be registered,” the president went on to say. “In any case, the strongest will win.”