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Russia: OSCE's Election Monitoring Criticized By Russia

The OSCE declared last year's Ukrainian elections to be severely flawed; Moscow found them to be fair Vienna, 21 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia told an international conference in Vienna today that election-monitoring in post-communist countries was sometimes influenced by the political goals of other countries.

The chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, Aleksandr Veshnyakov, claimed that on some occasions the monitoring of elections had been used not to assist the implementation of democracy but to legitimize political decisions. He did not name any country.

Veshnyakov spoke at the opening of a two-day conference to discuss Russian criticism of the monitoring of elections in former communist states. It was convened by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE has often been criticized by Russia for its critical comments on elections in Belarus, Ukraine, and other former communist countries.

Earlier, Veshnyakov told a press briefing that Moscow is dissatisfied with the current OSCE monitoring procedures and also with the methods used to assess the result of the voting. He called for a new OSCE charter on election-monitoring which, he said, should eliminate Moscow's concerns and reform election monitoring in what he called "the spirit of the times."

"Unfortunately, the institution of international monitoring [of elections] today is changing from an instrument assisting countries in implementing the principles of democracy into an instrument of legitimizing political decisions which concern the state of international relations with a given country. We see in this a departure from the goal of ensuring the citizens' rights to participate in the electoral process. Instead, the emphasis is being placed on the political participation [by other countries] in the internal affairs [of the monitored state]."

About 200 international experts are attending the conference which ends on 22 April.

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