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MOSCOW, June 24. /TASS/. Experts of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will visit Moscow on June 27 and then will travel to St. Petersburg to determine how many observers will be sent to the State Duma elections, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large Andrei Nesterenko told TASS on Friday.
"On June 17 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on holding elections to the State Duma on September 18, 2016, which gives the main start to Russia’s election campaign," the diplomat said. "After it was made public, we sent an invitation to the office so that they could come and monitor the election campaign and elections in Russia."
According to Nesterenko, ODIHR has its own rules and regulations, one of them is sending experts (the so-called needs assessment missions) to the countries where elections are held. "In view of this, the office is sending a small group of experts to Moscow who will have a number of meetings in the Russian Central Election Commission, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, as well as with representatives of the Russian Justice Ministry, the State Duma Constitutional Legislation Committee and members of different political parties," he said. "After their visit to Russia they will prepare the appropriate proposals to ODIHR Director Michael Link and, proceeding from this, a decision will be made on the number of observers at the State Duma elections."
"ODIHR experts also plan to visit St. Petersburg where they will meet with representatives of the Constitutional Court and the city commission on elections," the diplomat said. "In general, we expect a lot of observers who will monitor the election campaign." Among the observers will be representatives of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Nesterenko added that "a commission on organizing the elections abroad will be set up" in the Russian Foreign Ministry. "Work on this is in progress," he said.
Russia will hold elections to the State Duma on September 18. Under law, foreign observers can be invited to monitor elections by the Russian president, government, both houses of the Federal Assembly (parliament) and the Central Election Commission.