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VIENNA, July 14 (Itar-Tass) —— International election monitoring tools should be further developed and shortcomings eliminated, but that must be done on the consensus basis. This is the gist of the unanimous conclusion reached by the participants in the just-ended two-day OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting. A Russian delegation headed by Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov took part in the event.
He said most participants came out for the further development and improvement of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), as well as similar electoral monitoring tools within the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
"First of all,” he said, “we must try to derive benefits from the work of observers. In particular, I support the idea ··long-term and main missions of the SCO, the CIS and the OSCE may be used to help organize elections. In the last election we invited a lawyer from the core team of foreign observers to help us deal with voters’ complaints. He was from the U.S. and was very surprised that we are responsible for replying even to some letters that in his country would be rightly ignored."
"Many of my colleagues condemned by the practice of publishing various regulations and handbooks bearing the OSCE logo that have not been discussed with the participating states of the organization. For example, today we were shown a manual on how to monitor the media during elections. It had not been discussed with anybody. I think that many participants in the just-ended meeting could complement and improve this booklet. By the way, the publication of such documents is carried out outside the agreed ODIHR budget at the expense of some "extra donations" and without the knowledge of the OSCE participating states."
In general, Churov said, the Russian delegation fully used the opportunities and presented three detailed reports - on the technical side of organizing elections, the international culture of external influence on elections in sovereign states, and the interaction of election commissions and civil society. "Genuine civil society, and not the one on foreign payroll," he explained.
The Russian delegation also held a large-scale presentation, featuring six videos and a great amount of printed matter in Russian and English. "We presented all aspects of our election campaign, including video on shortcomings in the work of electoral commissions in Astrakhan,” Churov said. “We are a completely open system. We show advantages and disadvantages. Our videos have aroused great interest. For the first time, probably, we did not hear a word of criticism about the organization of web telecasts. Nobody said that it ostensibly violated the rights of voters. Moreover, no one objected when I specifically pointed out nowadays an election without webcasts can be considered as an outdated 19th century style election."
In addition, the Russian Public Institute of Electoral Law held a presentation of its books on the institution of international monitoring. The books contain, inter alia, an analysis of how missions are formed, who leads them, and why there is a clear bias in the monitoring conducted east and west of Vienna. Some very specific figures show that in the European space two regions are under "massive surveillance" – some of the republics of former Yugoslavia, especially Serbia and Macedonia, and the CIS countries.
On the sidelines of the meeting Churov held working meetings with counterparts and experts from Italy, Germany, Serbia, the USA, Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In addition, he delivered a lecture to the students and teachers of the Department of Law at the University of Vienna and thoroughly answered their questions for more than two hours.