BEIJING, January 3. /TASS/. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has begun work on a mission that will monitor Russia’s presidential election on March 18, 2018, SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov told TASS on Wednesday.
"We have already received an invitation to deploy our observers. I have issued an instruction to begin making up the mission," he said. "The SCO attaches great importance to assistance in holding open, free and democratic elections by its members and also abides by principles of political neutrality and non-interference in their domestic affairs."
The SCO mission has always tried to monitor elections across the entire host state. For instance, SCO observers worked in 13 out of 14 regions during Uzbekistan’s presidential election in 2016 and in four out of seven regions of Kyrgyzstan.
"Certainly, we will work in order to ensure the maximum scope [of monitoring]. Russia is the world’s largest country and has an enormous number of electoral constituencies. We will try to embrace most of the constituencies so that we will be able to get the broadest notion of the election, starting in the Far East and finishing in Russia’s western regions," Alimov said.
"It will unconditionally give greater representativeness to our conclusions, which are quite authoritative both among international agencies and among voters," he said.
Since its establishment, the SCO has gained enough expertise to monitor elections, Alimov said.
"I would like to say that the SCO has enough expertise in this sphere. For the recent 12 years, we have formed about 50 missions to monitor both presidential and parliamentary elections along with referendums," the secretary general said.
"In other words, we keep upgrading our expertise which provides us with an opportunity to monitor elections quite actively and at a high professional level," he pointed out.
"The mission brings together experts in electoral processes, namely members of electoral commissions and parliamentarians. After the mission is formed, we will start developing the concept of international monitoring at the presidential election in Russia," Alimov said.
On Tuesday, Nikolai Levichev, a member of Russia’s Central Election Commission, said at the commission’s meeting that observers from international organizations, including the OSCE, CIS and SCO, would come to monitor the presidential election on March 18, 2018.
Levichev pointed out that Russia’s CEC was sending invitations to members of foreign electoral bodies and international professional associations. Besides, the State Duma (lower house of parliament), the Federation Council (upper house) along with the incumbent head of state have the right to invite observers.