Comment by the Information and Press Department on the publication by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the final report on the monitoring of the presidential election in Russia on March 18 of this year

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 23:56

On June 6, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published its final report on the monitoring of the presidential election in Russia on March 18 of this year.

We have to state that the report is yet further evidence of the office’s political bias. Its methods are based on double standards both in creating monitoring missions and drafting final conclusions.

We have again seen that the office cares little about the real picture of election processes. Its comments go far beyond its mandate, openly interfering in the legislative processes of the Russian Federation. Russia’s anti-terrorist legislation and amendments to the Law on the Media are subjected to unjustified criticism. Broad use is made of references to anonymous informers that express mistrust in various components of the election.

The efforts of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) and local authorities to encourage voters to go to the polling stations are presented exclusively in the bad light. It is noted in passing that “voters may face difficulties in accessing polling stations established in at the embassy and consulates of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.” The glaring violation of the voting rights of Russian citizens that were going to vote in Ukraine is actually ignored.

It is noteworthy that in its report the ODIHR Observation Mission focused exclusively on some shortcomings of the electoral process, turning a blind eye to the enormous work of the Russian CEC on improving the legislative foundation, simplifying the nomination of candidates and providing precise lists of voters with the observance of all established deadlines and procedures. The report does not duly reflect the willingness of the Russian CEC and election commissions of the Russian regions to cooperate with the office at all stages of the preparations and holding of the election. Indicatively, the phrase from the Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions to the effect that the “IEOM observers were able to follow the process and observe freely” is missing from the final report.

The office blocked all positive moments by repeating critical remarks from its previous interim reports that blame Russia for a failure to observe a number of OSCE commitments on ensuring basic rights and freedoms. This criticism was accompanied by recommendations on improving the electoral process in this country.

During numerous meetings with members of the Election Observation Mission, the representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Russian CEC voiced only one demand to the office – to be unbiased and honest in its evaluations and conclusions. However, this lawful demand was ignored. The ODIHR has an obviously biased approach to dealing with Russia and is manipulating the observation data to suit time-serving political considerations, which is bound to undermine trust in this OSCE institution. Along with a number of other OSCE members, Russia pointed more than once to obvious drawbacks in the ODIHR’s performance and urged reforms in the methods and practice of its work. We are disappointed that the heads of this OSCE executive agency have not reached the appropriate conclusions.

We again persistently urge the ODIHR to revise its approach to monitoring elections. This will help enhance the office’s prestige and facilitate dialogue with the participating states on all aspects of the electoral process.

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