OSCE Cancels Mission, Citing Interference from Moscow

In a move that casts doubts on the credibility of Russia’s December 2nd State Duma elections, Europe’s major electoral observer has canceled its electoral monitoring mission to Russia. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a division of the OSCE, cited interference and visa delays on the part of Russian authorities.

Christian Strohal, the Organization’s director, announced the decision in a statement:

“The ODIHR therefore concludes that the authorities of the Russian Federation remain unwilling to receive ODIHR observers in a timely and co-operative manner and co-operate fully with them. It is with regret that the ODIHR recognises that it will be unable to deliver its mandate under these circumstances.”

Urdur Gunnarsdottir, a spokeswoman for the group, explained the frustration of the situation:

“We have not received a single visa for the 70 observers. We have tried everything.”

Another body of the OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly (PA), is still planning to send observers. Its president, Göran Lennmarker, met on Friday with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and urged him to allow more observers for the PA’s mission.

Russia’s treatment of international observers has been met with criticism from representatives of the European Union, as well the United States.