OSCE Monitors Denied Russian Visas

OSCE Monitors Denied Russian Visas People walk past a billboard showing an election advertisement of the pro-Kremlin Fair Russia party in the southern Russian city of Stavropol November 10, 2007. Russia will elect a new parliament on December 2. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko (RUSSIA) The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reports it has been denied visas to enter Russia for monitoring the December 2 elections; Russia denies the claims.

An international security organization said Friday its election observers would be unable to monitor next month’s Russian parliamentary balloting because Moscow had refused to issue them visas.

The development underscores the tensions between Russia and the West about the state of democracy under President Vladimir Putin. The standoff threatens to deepen Western doubts about the legitimacy of the Dec. 2 elections and harden Moscow’s insistence that the West lacks the right to criticize how they are carried out. Russia has already come under criticism because it had said it would allow the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send only 70 observers — far fewer than in previous Russian elections — for the vote.

”We have not received a single visa for the 70 observers,” OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. ”We have tried everything. … But we sadly now have to conclude that it is not possible.”

Russia’s top election official denied it has refused the visas and said they were waiting in Warsaw at the headquarters of the election monitoring office, the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. ”All the necessary documents including visas are already in Warsaw, at ODIHR headquarters, so I don’t understand what could have prompted such a decision,” Vladimir Churov said at a news conference at the Russian Embassy in Berlin.

While it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that this is a simple misunderstanding, I’d put my money on the OSCE in a dispute with the Putin regime.

via OTB News

Photo: Eduard Korniyenko (Reuters)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    On this issue I’m inclined to believe it’s a mixup. Putin’s party (United Russia) is in no risk of losing a fair election, so I don’t think there will be any shenanigans for the observers to see. It’s in Putin’s interest to have the election validated by the international community.