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Russia urges the OSCE's main election observer body to rectify
Russia urges the OSCE's main election observer body to rectify the "unhealthy situation" surrounding election monitoring, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) asked Russia on Tuesday to reconsider its quotas for the number of observers to attend the March 2 presidential election, and the observers' mandates.

Curtis Budden, a spokesman for the ODIHR, said the invitations contained major restrictions on the number of observers and their monitoring work.

"We hope that the new ODIHR administration, due to come in place soon, and the new leaders at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, will pay special attention to rectifying the unhealthy situation this year," Lavrov told a news conference following a Russian-Belarusian foreign ministerial meeting.

The diplomat called for single monitoring standards and clear rules. He also complained that the ODIHR had failed to consider the proposal Russia submitted over two years ago to coordinate standards.

Lavrov also criticized "mature democracies" for refusing to adopt laws to make election monitoring obligatory.

Vladimir Churov, head of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC), said on Monday that 70 ODIHR observers had been invited to monitor the country's presidential polls.

Maya Grishina, a CEC member, said Russia had the right to send invitations independently and that its quotas were sufficient to allow effective monitoring.

"Monitoring will be quite possible within the mandate," the official told the press on Wednesday.

The ODIHR boycotted Russia's parliamentary polls on December 2 citing visa delays and "unprecedented restrictions." Moscow dismissed the charges, accusing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of ineffectiveness and bias.

The OSCE called the December 2 parliamentary elections, which saw a landslide victory for the Kremlin-backed United Russia party, "not fair."


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