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No big deal? Moscow unfazed after OSCE reveals it will not be sending election observers to Russia for first time since 1993

No big deal? Moscow unfazed after OSCE reveals it will not be sending election observers to Russia for first time since 1993
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s decision not to send observers to Russian parliamentary elections for the first time since 1993 is no big deal, and other monitors will happily do the job instead.

That’s according to the Russian Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Oleg Gavrilov, who suggested that the OSCE wouldn’t be missed and its absence won’t affect the quality of the election monitoring process.

“If the office remains reluctant to visit Russia, many other independent monitoring organizations, which have also received our invitation, will gladly use its quota,” Gavrilov said.

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Next month, Russian voters will go to the polls to vote for representatives they wish to see in the State Duma, the country’s federal parliament. Usually, the OSCE sends its monitoring staff to Russia to observe whether the vote was held in a free and fair manner.

On Wednesday, the OSCE revealed that it would not send any observers after the Russian authorities announced that, due to Covid-19 restrictions, just 60 would be allowed across the border from both the OSCE and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights combined. The organization believes that 500 people are needed to do a proper job.

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“We very much regret that our observation of the forthcoming elections in Russia will not be possible,” said Matteo Mecacci, director of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR), according to news agency Reuters.

According to Margareta Cederfelt, the head of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly, the group was “limited to sending only a small fraction of the observers [it] had intended,” noting that taking so few monitors “does not enable [the OSCE] to carry out our work in an effective and thorough manner.”

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