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Russian national delegation would be more effective at US election — expert

October 23, 2016, 1:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Earlier reports said that Russian diplomats in the US announced their intention to monitor US presidential election

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Vasily Likhachev, member of the Russian Central Election Commission

Vasily Likhachev, member of the Russian Central Election Commission

© Vadim Skryabin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 23. /TASS/. The format of the Russian national delegation could be more effective in observing the presidential election in the United States scheduled for November 8 than within the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as its tough methodology puts limits on specialists, Vasily Likhachev, member of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC), in charge of international cooperation, told TASS.

"Understanding the magnitude, we have proceeded from the fact that the best option will be to make up a national team of observers. Naturally, we expected that this choice would get approval from the US as this proposal was from a sovereign state with the right to choose a relevant configuration," Likhachev said.

Earlier reports said that Russian diplomats in the US announced their intention to monitor US presidential election. In response, the US Department of State sent a note to the Russian Embassy in Washington, saying to address the OSCE ODIHR mission for this purpose.

Besides, the Russian diplomats filed requests with a number of local electoral commissions "showing their interest in getting familiarized with the US experiences of organizing and holding the voting process." The embassy said that it received "negative answers, including threats," which pointed out that if the diplomats appeared at the polling stations, it could be viewed as a criminal act.

Paradoxical situation

Russia made up "a list of very authoritative specialists in various aspects of law, in particular US law," Likhachev said, noting that "the OSCE ODIHR has its own methodology that is very tough and puts sufficient limits on the research process."

As of today, Russia’s participation as a member of the OSCE ODIHR mission has been ruled out since the country had missed all possible deadlines for submitting the required documents.

Likhachev thinks it paradoxical that the US rejected a request from the Russian national delegation to observe the election and that US states refused to see Russian diplomats at the polling stations.

"The picture is absolutely paradoxical as it does not comply with US commitments to cooperation within the OSCE framework. Both Russia and the US are members of this authoritative international organization. It does not comply with joint declarations on cooperation and partnership signed by both Russia and the US," he added.

ODIHR unfilled quotas

In the spring, the ODIHR defined the number of its observers at the US presidential election at as many as 500. Now the organization has faced a problem with filling a quota for short-term observers, Likhachev said.

"Few in Europe want to join the OSCE ODIHR united team… As of today, a small group of long-term observers operate there, and the OSCE ODIHR is facing a problem with making up a group of short-term observers. They provided 400 seats for them although by the beginning of the outgoing week only 72 or 73 bids had been submitted," he said.

It might be linked with peculiarities of US legislation and frequent discrepancies in federal laws and state laws. "Last elections demonstrated that organizational and other obstacles were created for observers," the CEC member said.

‘Remote’ monitoring

The Russian Central Election Commission and public activists (for instance Igor Borisov, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights) will follow the US presidential election "remotely," Likhachev said.

"We should discuss this (remote monitoring) at the beginning of the coming week," Likhachev said. "In line with the international law, our diplomats are going to analyze the US media, television and radio programs," he added.

US position

Earlier, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called Russia’s attempt to observe the elections "nothing more than a PR stunt." He said Russian officials could have taken part in an observer delegation through the OSCE ODIHR. Toner said that allowing foreign observers was up to each state individually.

Earlier, Likhachev told TASS that Russia would not participate in an observer mission in the United States, neither as an independent national delegation nor within the OSCE ODIHR delegation, "due to a huge number of diversified factors which are creating a critical mass in Russian-American relations."

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