Moscow won’t send its observers to Ukraine since Kiev has refused to accredit Russians as members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, TASS reported.
Ukraine’s Central Election Commission had earlier announced its "illegitimate" decision to reject the ODIHR’s request to accredit 24 Russians as part of its mission to monitor the March 31 presidential election, the ministry said. In February, ODIHR received Kiev’s refusal to accredit two Russian women, who planned to head to Ukraine as long-term observers of the mission. "Now these steps were "justified" by new amendments that the Verkhovna Rada hastily passed in February when the ODIHR mission was being deployed in Ukraine," it said.
"These discriminatory steps of the Ukrainian authorities prevent Russian experts from taking part in the ODIHR observation mission. Against this background, Russia is forced to refuse to send its observers to Ukraine in order not to subject them to a threat of certain prosecution," the ministry stated.
Doubts about legitimacy
The assessments by the OSCE ODIHR about the situation in Ukraine raise doubts about the legitimacy of the results of the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election, the ministry said.
"Kiev’s illegal steps against Russian observers at the OSCE were reflected in the interim report of the ODIHR monitoring mission released on March 15. Besides, it contained other complaints about the election campaign. Among them is failure to comply with recommendations after the previous elections, misuse of state funds, vote buying, the use of administrative resource, criminal prosecution of presidential candidates, biased Central Election Commission and judicial authorities, problems with registering voters and inconsistency in operation of local election commissions," it said.
"All this, as the ODIHR states, comes amid the lack of confidence of the population in the authorities, problems with journalists’ security, a high concentration of mass media in the hands of a narrow circle of owners and legislative initiatives to restrict media freedom and access to online resources. Such evaluations question the legitimacy of the results of the upcoming election," the ministry explained.
By its steps, Kiev has again discredited itself, and in particular, it seriously violated the spirit and letter of the Copenhagen Document and other OSCE’s commitments on elections. Kiev’s decision not to open polling stations in its diplomatic missions in Russia also stripped of their constitutional rights to vote millions of Ukrainians who are currently in Russia. The voting rights of Ukrainian citizens living in Donbass and many thousands of internally displaced persons have been also violated, the ministry stressed.
"The OSCE leadership, including ODIHR, understands all this very well, and so do member-states of the organization and many their representatives have repeatedly called on Kiev not to violate its international standards of democracy," it said. "Judging by what we see today in Ukraine, Kiev has something to hide from its citizens and the international community."
The Russian Foreign Ministry expects that despite the absence of Russian observers, ODIHR will be able to evaluate the Ukrainian election unbiasedly regardless of political preferences and without fearing to draw a negative reaction of the Ukrainian authorities sponsored by the West.
"We plan to continue carefully monitoring the election campaign in Ukraine and closely cooperate with ODIHR and other OSCE’s executive agencies, which are designed to monitor the situation with democracy and human rights in the country and contribute to their observation," the ministry stated.