( dpa ) - International election monitors have asked Russia to grant them access to the country more than the official three days ahead of the March 2 elections granted by Moscow's Central Election Commission, as they would not be able to fulfil their full mandate otherwise.
The Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the election-monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), said they had asked Moscow to grant visas for its monitors as soon as possible.
"We would like to go next week," ODIHR spokesman Curtis Budden said, "And that's quite late already."
The ODIHR had a mandate for long-term election observation, Budden said, which could not be fulfilled if monitors came to the country only a few days ahead of the elections.
"Elections is not just what happens on election day," he said. If the ODIHR was granted access now, it could at least observe the later stages of the campaign and what happened in the media.
The ODIHR pulled out of monitoring Russia's parliamentary elections last year because of restrictions on the number of international observers, saying it would not have been able to do its job properly.
In the run-up to the presidential elections, the ODIHR has criticized both the number of restrictions imposed and the timing of monitor access.
"We hope that our request is fulfilled," Budden said.