( RIA Novosti ) - Over 200 international observers have received accreditation for the Russian parliamentary elections due December 2, the chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission said Friday.
Vladimir Churov said overall about 330 foreign observers have been invited to monitor the elections. "I think the number will be the same ," he told journalists.
Churov said the competition rate at the elections will be about 10 people per seat. "The lists of eleven political parties taking part in the elections contain overall over 4,500 candidates," he said, adding that the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has 450 seats. "And, the competition will be about 10 people per seat."
Churov told media students at Moscow State University Friday that more than 1,000 Russian and over 360 foreign journalists from 34 countries have been accredited to cover the elections.
A source in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said Friday a PACE delegation of 55 representatives will arrive in Russia November 29 to monitor the December elections and ensure they are fair and unbiased.
While in Russia, the delegation will familiarize itself with the election process, meet with heads of political parties, journalists and non-governmental organizations in central Russia, Siberia and the Far East. The source also said the observers will hold a press conference December 3.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced last week it would be unable to attend the parliamentary elections due to "unprecedented" restrictions, saying that its monitors had been "continuously denied entry visas into Russia." The organization also accused Moscow of being unwilling to cooperate.
But Russia's Foreign Ministry has denied the allegations, saying Moscow had fulfilled all its commitments, but had only seen in reply "a demonstrative unwillingness to follow procedures defined by Russian law."
Spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said its commitments were to invite observers, but that "no agreements regulating the parameters of election monitoring have been concluded at an interstate level in the OSCE."
He also said that Russia did not accept that the "internal instructions" of the OSCE's election monitoring body, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, are an accepted standard to be used in election monitoring.
The State Duma, Russia's lower house, is currently dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia. President Putin announced in October that he would head the party's candidate list at the elections, a move which has all but guaranteed United Russia a resounding victory at December's polls.
However, the OSCE's presence at elections is seen as vital by most Western governments, and the current crisis will do little to counter mounting criticism of a perceived Kremlin crackdown on democratic principles.
Churov earlier insisted that accreditation documents had been sent to the OSCE on time, and said its refusal to monitor the polls was surprising.
Churov also said that the number of monitors would be the same as planned, despite the refusal of the ODIHR to attend, as Russia will "simply divide the ODIHR's quota between other foreign missions."