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MOSCOW, August 8. /TASS/. A group of long-term observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will arrive in Russia in about a week to monitor preparations for the upcoming elections to Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament), Vasily Likhachev, a member of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC), told TASS on Monday.
"They said a group of long-term observers of 60 people is to come to Russia in about a week," he said after a meeting between CEC senior officials and Jan Petersen, head of the ODIHR election observation mission. Likhachev added that the rest of the observers will arrive immediately before the September 18 elections.
"I got the impression that the head of the mission has a businesslike approach and that impartiality criteria are very important for him. Dialogue with (chairperson of the Russian Central Election Commission Ella) Pamfilova, the commission’s members on legal issues, media contacts, work with the regions is very important for him," Likhachev said.
He noted that Petersen "is a very experienced diplomat who served as the Norwegian Foreign Minister for many years." According to Likhachev, during the meeting Pamfilova "provided detailed information on the progress in preparations of the elections referring to numerous serious nuances of Russia’s election legislation, the work with the media and cooperation with the regions."
The first group of OSCE ODIHR international observers at upcoming parliamentary elections held separate meetings with the Russian Foreign Ministry and CEC earlier on Monday. It was earlier reported that 15 more ODIHR observers will arrive in the Russian capital at the end of the week. OSCE ODIHR plans to send a total of 500 observers to Russia - 80 long-term and 420 short-term ones.
Elections to the 450-seat Russian State Duma will be held on September 18 under a mixed system: 225 lawmakers will be elected in one-seat constituencies and another 225 will be elected by party tickets. On June 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree setting the elections, which was published on the same day the election campaign officially got underway. In addition to the State Duma elections, 39 regions will elect their legislative assemblies, while seven constituent regions will hold direct elections of their top officials. Concurrently, municipal elections will be held in about 5,000 constituencies.