The Central Election Committee has complained to Russian authorities about the foreign election observers.
The officials claim that EU Parliamentary Assembly representatives have started criticizing the Duma election campaign way too early.
“We are now studying their activity here during the visit of the so-called quintet,” said the head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov. “There were signs of violation of Russian legislation.”
The essence of the complaint is PACE members’ public statements on the election campaign.
“The PACE quintet were in Russia on a familiarizing visit, which had no status as an officially-registered mission,” Igor Borisov, head of the Public Institute of Election Law, told Interfax. “Nevertheless, the PACE quintet allowed themselves to make comments.”
Reportedly, this comes after PACE mission held a press conference at which the monitors harshly criticized the beginning of the election campaign. The PACE experts said that the promotional posters of the Moscow City Election Committee resemble the posters of United Russia party.
“It’s very hard to see the difference between the two,” said PACE monitor Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin. “It shouldn’t be like that.”
Outraged by such a claim, United Russia filed a complaint to Russia’s Central Election Committee. According to Russian law, foreign monitors can address the public only after the elections are over.
The case will now be examined by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affaires and by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Law specialists, however, say that these are not the right bodies to bring the complaint to.
“Churov should have addressed the organization that sent the observers – in other words, the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council,” Andrey Buzin, expert from the non-profit organization Golos, told RT. “But he rightly judged that they will not back his complaint.”
On November 11, Churov put off the meeting with PACE monitoring mission, citing no particular reason.
Meanwhile, more than 50 monitors of the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE/ODIHR) are currently in Russia, including experts assigned to long-term election monitoring. Taking the short-term monitors into account, the OSCE/ODIHR’s mission will have about 200 experts.
The missions of the OSCE/ODIHR and of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are the only ones so far that have official accreditation.