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OSCE Training More Election Monitors In Russia

An OSCE election monitor observing Kazakhstan's presidential election on December 4 2005 (Courtesy Photo) March 6, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe today began a training course in election monitoring for 105 Russian officials in Moscow.

An OSCE spokeswoman said the two-day course will cover how monitors should go about observing the voting and the counting of results. They will also discuss how to assess the honesty of an election and how to prepare the reports that are publicized by OSCE.

The course will also discuss the work of long-term experts who are sent to a country weeks before an election takes place to assess whether all candidates have an equal opportunity to present their programs to the voter, including equal access to the media.

The training course is being conducted by OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which trained 90 Russian observers in a similar course last October.

OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said today the organization welcomed Russia's interest in international election monitoring.

Russia has frequently rejected OSCE's criticisms of the integrity of elections in former Soviet-bloc countries and has called for changes in the way the OSCE operates. It has particularly criticized OSCE for issuing reports on the fairness of elections shortly after polls have closed.

The OSCE currently has a team of monitors in Belarus preparing for this month's presidential election.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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