( RIA Novosti ) - A Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) official said on Friday that the number of international monitors at the upcoming parliamentary elections in Russia should be at least doubled.
Luc Van den Brande, co-rapporteur on Russia at the PACE, said the 300 monitors that Russia had invited were insufficient for such a large country, and more were needed.
He said a PACE observer mission to monitor December 2 elections for the State Duma would arrive in Russia on November 29.
The PACE official said he was also concerned by the fact that Russia had issued official invitations to international observers too late and that not all the political parties running for the State Duma had access to the media.
Russia said on Wednesday that it had invited more international monitors to the parliamentary elections than the U.S. did for last year's congressional elections.
Alexander Grushko, a Russian deputy foreign minister said "there are no uniform standards for election monitoring at the OSCE."
He said complaints about monitoring cutbacks were coming mainly "from across the ocean." However, he said last year the U.S. only invited 16 monitors from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to attend congressional elections, whereas Russia has invited 70 from the latter organization alone, as well as hundreds from other international organizations.
A total of 350 observers are to monitor elections to Russia's lower house of parliament on December 2, about three times fewer than four years ago, Russia's top election official had earlier said.
Vladimir Churov explained that the number of foreign observers had been cut in order to involve "professionals" in the monitoring process.
Moscow earlier announced a cutback in monitoring by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a ban on public reports immediately following the elections.
Churov said with a total of just over 200 people working in the Central Election Commission, it would be problematic for such a small team to provide good working conditions for over a thousand foreign observers.
The OSCE received an official invitation to monitor the State Duma elections on October 31. The invitation limited the number of monitors to 70, and placed restrictions on the time allotted for the observers to carry out their work.
A small group of observers has been invited from the Nordic Council.
A total of eleven parties will run for the lower house of Russia's parliament, according to the Central Election Commission.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said last Friday that recent comments by a senior U.S. government official about the "curtailed" monitoring procedure for upcoming parliamentary elections were "inappropriate" and "ill-advised."
"Such comments, which are utterly baseless, only go to show that certain quarters in the West are allergic to the sovereign character of Russia's democratic system, which is not developing according to scenarios written across the ocean, but in accordance with domestic laws and the choice that the Russian people made in the early 1990s," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its official website.
It said that from an OSCE perspective, U.S. democracy "is far from perfect."
U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns called Russia's decision unparalleled and said, "We regret very much this decision by the Russian authorities because it's rather unprecedented in the history of the OSCE."