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  Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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A senior Russian MP said on Friday that any criticism
A senior Russian MP said on Friday that any criticism of Sunday's presidential polls by election watchdog monitors would be construed as an attempt to exert pressure on the country.

"If the results of the vote are subject to doubts, we will consider this not criticism, but an attempt to exert pressure on our country and our people through the international monitoring procedure," said Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the International Affairs Committee at the State Duma.

The parliamentarian's statement echoed a warning to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observers made by Russia's Central Election Commission chief Vladimir Churov on Thursday that any comments made ahead of the country's March 2 polls could be considered interference in Russia's internal policies.

"We have repeatedly asked all observer missions to refrain from making statements that could affect voter behavior before the election results are known," Vladimir Churov said after a meeting with PACE monitors.

A delegation of 25 members of PACE, led by Andreas Gross, arrived in Moscow on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper on Thursday, Gross said that the upcoming presidential elections in Russia would offer little real choice.

The MP described Gross' interview with the Russian paper "a serious setback."

"I think Gross... grossly violated Russian law... and PACE regulations," Kosachyov said.

Kosachyov also accused international election monitors of lacking strict monitoring rules, and said that his country would only accept "unbiased and constructive" criticism.


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