“Election Monitoring is Already Interference” – Churov

At a press-conference in Moscow on November 6th, Vladimir Churov addressed questions about electoral monitoring for upcoming State Duma elections. The chairman of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) called the conference amid growing criticism of the Commission, which has delayed invitations to observers, and limited their numbers to a third of those in previous cycles. Among other issues, the chairman announced that the presence of international monitors in every electoral district represented “as a minimum, interference in domestic affairs.”

According to Churov, “quality observers” are capable of visiting several locations in a single day. The chairman then explained that invitations had finally been sent to around 350 individuals from the Ministry of Foreign affairs, the CEC, and the State Duma. He added that each invitation included all the information the monitors need, including a candidate list from each party, as well as a map of polling stations. “Even now, observers can inspect the electoral map, and use it to plan their mission.”

In response to a question of why the number of monitors had been limited, from more than 1000 in past elections, Churov answered that the quality of work by the observers is determined not by quantity, but by professionalism. “Does every international document state that the legitimacy of elections depends on the numbers of international observers attending?” Churov asked rhetorically.

Churov went on to assure the present journalists that the elections would be adequately monitored. He asked a request of the reporters: “Don’t exaggerate the difficulties associated with electoral monitoring.

Replying to a question about the long delay on invitations, Churov commented that foreign monitors could evaluate the pre-electoral situation in Russia “remotely.” He added that the CEC is prepared to present the observers with accounts of the situation on the ground from Russian mass-media sources.