The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Friday it would not be monitoring the upcoming parliamentary polls in Russia due to "delays and restrictions" imposed by Moscow. Russian officials said all the necessary visa documents had been sent to the Warsaw office of the OSCE's election monitoring arm.
Miguel Moratinos said Russia and the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) still had time to overcome the present difficulties, adding that free election monitoring was a cornerstone of any democracy.
In total, Russia had invited about 350 international observers, including 70 from ODIHR, to monitor the elections to its lower house. The figure is about three times lower than during the previous parliamentary elections, four years ago. Russia's top election official Vladimir Churov said the election authorities had invited fewer observers this time in an effort to rely more on "professionals".