OSCE observers to monitor Russian presidential polls

Russia’s election authorities will allow 200 observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor March’s presidential polls, in which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will seek a third stint in the Kremlin.

Jens Eschenbaecher, spokesman for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said the necessary documentation was in place.

“The first [group of] monitors will begin work at the end of January,” Eschenbaecher told the Kommersant daily.

One hundred and sixty long-term and 40 short-term observers will be able to monitor the March 4 vote.

The OSCE – the largest European monitoring group – cited numerous violations in last month’s parliamentary elections, saying they were “slanted” in favor of the ruling United Russia party. President Dmitry Medvedev insisted the vote was fair and democratic but promised to investigate widespread allegations of electoral fraud.

The group boycotted the 2008 presidential elections after disagreements with Russia over the size and scope of the mission.

Putin, who was barred by the constitution from seeking a third presidential term in 2008, said last month he wanted a “fair vote.”


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