Putin blames U.S. for withdrawal of election observers

President Vladimir Putin says the U.S. State Department was behind the decision by Europe's election watchdog not to send observers to Russia for December's parliamentary election. Putin said the move was a deliberate attempt by Washington to undermine t

The Russian leader warned that Moscow 'will take this into account' when dealing with the United States.

The U.S. State Department has denied any interference.

Putin also lashed out at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, saying its decision 'just confirms that many structures including the OSCE need to undergo reforms.' The President promised to ensure this happens.

The OSCE has denied Putin's claims.

Urdur Gunnarsdottir, spokesperson at the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights states that “it's nonsense. This decision is not influenced by any government. It was made by election experts and based on their assessment of our ability to observe.” 

“It is not a political decision in any way. The limitations that we were facing on size and time and the fact that, when the decision was taken on November 15, we hadn't received a single visa for our observers,” she added.

I do not know what went on in Russia but the only thing I know is that none of the observers had received a visa by November 15. All of them went to the Russian embassies in their countries and they were all told that there were no instructions from Moscow and therefore visas could not be issued. We are very upset and have not encountered such problems before

Urdur Gunnarsdottir, spokesperson at the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights


“I do not know what went on in Russia but the only thing I know that none of the observers received a visa on November 15. All of them went to the Russian embassies in their countries and they were all told that there were no instructions from Moscow and therefore visas cannot be issued. We are very upset and have not encountered such problems before,” Gunnarsdottir concluded.

The OSCE is an international organisation which promotes stability and democratic values.

On November 16, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights said it would not send its monitoring mission to the country. It blamed visa delays on the Russian side.

Russian officials responded that all 70 observers had already received their visas and said the blockage was caused by bureaucracy in the OSCE.

Last Monday Russia sent an extra 75 invitations to observers from PACE, the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly and the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly.

“OSCE is a serious organization and many observers really have diplomatic passports. So this so calles visa problem does not look like serious obstacle. On the other hand Russian authorities are very much interested in making this election as open and transparent as possible because it means a lot for Russian reputation all over the world,”Dmitry Petrov, Editor-in-Chief of E-zine “Message” believes.

RT commentary

RT political commentator Peter Lavelle says “it's clear they are doing their best to delegitimise this election.”

“The OSCE ran paperwork and red tape to send its people here. Russia said not as many would be accepted as last time in 2003,” he adds.

There are a lot of people in D.C., in government, outside the government, who love to be given one more chance to try to delegitimise the presidency of Vladimir Putin

Peter Lavelle, RT political commentator


According to Lavelle, “seventy was more than enough to cover what they need. So there was wrangling about that. It added insult to injury to say that if they cannot cover it their way, they won't come at all.”

He is sure that “there are a lot of people in D.C., in government, outside the government, who love to be given one more chance to try to delegitimise the presidency of Vladimir Putin. I cannot but think it's almost personal.”

“It's not just about the parliamentary election, but about the presidential election as well,” Lavelle believes.

“Putin does not like how the OSCE picks the elections that it likes. It likes Georgia, Ukraine, but it won't go to Transdniester, to Abkhazia.  What about their democracies? They are not on the agenda. They hold free and fair, although difficult elections, depending on the situation. They don't know; they just dismiss these democracies as non-existent. I think these are double standards,” RT political commentator says.

“Russia sees that the OSCE needs to be reformed. It's a Cold War institution that needs to be brought out of the past and into present. Russia is a paying member and will not be lectured by any of the members. Other members of the OSCE do not have monitors to cover their elections. Or if they do, they are very few. The last two American Presidential elections probably needed more monitors,” he concludes.