BERLIN, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has invited an additional 75 international monitors to the December 2 parliamentary elections, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.
Russia's election authorities earlier said they had invited around 350 international observers to the polls. However, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s election monitoring body, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said last week it would be unable to attend the elections due to "unprecedented" restrictions on its mission.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of the International Affairs Committee of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, said that three other organizations had each received invitations to send an additional 25 monitors.
The groups are the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
"We decided to raise the number of invited monitors to 55 from each organization" he said.
The ODIHR said on November 16 that its monitors had been "continuously denied entry visas into Russia" and accused Moscow of being unwilling to cooperate with the organization.
A letter sent to the Russian election commission said that the organization, whose presence at elections is seen as vital by most Western governments, "regretted" that it "would be unable to deliver its mandate.
The head of Russia's Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, insisted that accreditation documents had been sent to the OSCE on time, and said its refusal to monitor the polls was surprising.
"All the relevant documents, including visas, are with the Warsaw-based ODIHR office. I do not see what could have prompted such a decision," he said.
Churov also said that the number of monitors would be the same as earlier planned, despite the refusal of the ODIHR to attend, as Russia will "simply divide the ODIHR's quota between other foreign missions."
Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the Russian parliament's lower house, said he hoped that the three international organizations would increase the number of their monitors by 25 people each.
"Today I have signed a proposal for Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States to increase the number of monitors by 25 each," Gryzlov said.
The State Duma is currently dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia. President Putin announced in October that he would head the party's candidate list at the elections, a move which has all but guaranteed United Russia a resounding victory at December's polls.