"The United Kingdom has sent 15 observers. And there is also one observer as a member of our core team. So in total there are 16 from the UK," Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Spokesman Thomas Rymer said.
Commenting on media reports about London's recommendations to its observers, Rymer said that he had no information about the contacts between them and the UK authorities.
Early, the Russian Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing sources, that three UK independent observers, who were invited by the Russian State Duma to monitor the election, were prohibited from doing so by UK authorities. Meanwhile, Vasily Likhachev, a member of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC), stated that no OSCE/ODIHR observer had ever refused to monitor the presidential vote.
Relations between Russia and the United Kingdom deteriorated drastically over the past two weeks due to the poisoning of ex-officer of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the United Kingdom. On Monday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of involvement in the attempted murder, issuing a de facto ultimatum to Russia to provide an explanation for the incident by the end of Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has refuted all the allegations and requested the UK Foreign Office for a joint investigation into the case. The proposal has been ignored by UK leadership. May later went on to announce a package of anti-Russian measures, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country, and suspension of bilateral contacts between London and Moscow.