OSCE Monitors Denied Russian Visas
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)