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President Vladimir Putin said on Monday the refusal of the OSCE's
President Vladimir Putin said on Monday the refusal of the OSCE's election monitoring body to dispatch observers to Russia's parliamentary elections was made on recommendations from the U.S.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, whose presence at elections is seen as critical by most Western governments, announced on November 16 it would not attend the December 2 polls, citing "unprecedented" restrictions imposed by Moscow and difficulties in obtaining entry visas. Russia has dismissed the charges, calling the decision politically motivated.

Putin said: "According to our data, this has once again been done on the U.S. State Department's recommendation, and we will take this into account in our intergovernmental relations with that country."

The Russian leader said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's refusal was aimed at "delegitimizing" the elections in Russia. "But they won't achieve this goal either," he said.

Putin said the OSCE's move had come as a surprise for many European countries. "It proves that many structures, including the OSCE, need reform," the president said, echoing Russia's longtime criticism of the organization as ineffective and biased. "We will be pushing for reform," he added.

The mission of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has, meanwhile, begun work in Russia, spokesman Klas Bergman said on Monday.

A total of 330 monitors will attend the elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, including from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other post-Soviet organizations, and election officials from 20 countries.

The State Duma is currently dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia. Putin announced in October that he would head the party's candidate list, a move which has all but guaranteed the party a resounding victory at December's polls.


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