Russia makes concessions to OSCE vote-monitors

Other News Materials 5 February 2008 16:29 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Russia's election committee on Tuesday softened restrictions imposed on Europe's main election-monitoring body in emergency talks held in Moscow to avert a boycott by observers of the March 2 presidential vote.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) offered to allow the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) vote- monitoring arm, the ODIHR, five more observers and lengthen its mission - striking a compromise on two of the organization's main complaints.

"We expect the OSCE mission to start work on February 20," Interfax news agency quoted CEC member Igor Borisov as saying.

The ODIHR sent a letter of complaint to the CEC, saying it could not fufill its mandate if not permitted to start work three weeks before the election. Russia had previously limited campaign monitoring to three days before the vote.

Amid scandal, the ODIHR withdrew from monitoring the December 2 parliamentary elections, decrying Russia's decision to limit its purview to 70 observers and delays in issuing visa invitations.

ODIHR spokesman Curtis Budden said an answer to the CEC's compromise proposal would be made public later on Tuesday.

Russia's offer marks a change in the tough words being slung at the watchdog body in the past week.

Russia had accused the Warsaw-based organization of trying to sabotage the elections and of being a pawn of the United States.

Russia, which is a signatory to the OSCE, maintains that it is complying with its obligations and accuses the watchdog of selective application of vote-monitoring conventions.