The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has no mechanisms to influence Kiev’s decision to prohibit Russian nationals to take part in the work of the mission that will monitor the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine on March 31, ODIHR Spokesperson Thomas Rymer told TASS on Friday.
"The commitments that participating countries make are politically binding, not legally binding. So there is no mechanism in OSCE to change that," he said. "In international law, if Ukrainians refuse to accredit and do not allow them to enter, there is nothing that we can do".
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin earlier said that Kiev would not let Russian nationals monitor Ukraine’s presidential election. He sent a letter on the issue to Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir. The Office responded that it would act in accordance with the established norms and principles enshrined in the OSCE documents and confirmed by the election monitoring practice. She stressed that those observers who are sent to monitor elections as part of the ODIHR mission represent the entire OSCE rather than their countries.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed the law, according to which "individuals who are citizens or subjects of a state recognized by the Verkhovna Rada as an aggressor country or an invader country" and also "individuals proposed [as observers] by the state recognized by the Verkhovna Rada as an aggressor country or an invader country" cannot monitor the presidential, parliamentary or local elections.
For his part, Peter Taylor, the current head of the OSCE ODIHR Election Monitoring Mission, pointed out that Kiev’s approach towards the issue contravened OSCE principles.
Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker urged Kiev to allow Russian nationals to monitor the presidential election under ODIHR authority.