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Moscow to refrain from sending observers to Ukraine for security reasons

Ukraine’s presidential election is scheduled for March 31
Russian Foreign Ministry Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry
© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 8. /TASS/. Russia will refrain from dispatching observers to monitor Ukraine’s presidential election for security reasons, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

"The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has received a formal notification from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry about Kiev’s refusal to accredit Russian nationals who were to arrive in the country in the near future as long-term observers and begin work as part of the ODIHR mission to monitor Ukraine’s presidential election," the ministry said.

"Actually, such a decision was predictable amid statements by high-ranking Ukrainian officials and the Verkhovna Rada’s actions to enshrine in law a ban on Russians to take part in monitoring any elections in Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry went on to say. "At the same time, there was still a glimmer of hope that that common sense would prevail in Kiev."

"We consider Ukraine’s decision to deny accreditation to Russian observers to be a flagrant violation of international obligations in the field of generally accepted electoral procedures," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

It drew attention to the fact that Kiev’s decision "dealt a powerful blow to the image of ODIHR, which views oneself as ‘the gold standard’ of the election monitoring principles."

"The Kiev authorities actually thumbed their nose at these standards showing once again total disregard for the norms of international law and their own obligations," the Foreign Ministry said.

"In light of that, taking into account security concerns of our representatives in the ODIHR monitoring mission, Russia decided to refrain from dispatching them to Ukraine," the ministry stressed.

Impartiality questioned

"The absence of Russian observers in the international monitoring missions, along with stripping millions of Ukrainian citizens of an opportunity to vote in Russia during the Ukrainian presidential election, calls into question the transparency and impartiality of the results of the upcoming vote," the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

"We call on our partners, primarily from among Kiev’s Western mentors in matters of democratic development, to provide a principled assessment of the Ukrainian authorities’ actions and demand that they return to the international legal framework," the ministry added.

Verkhovna Rada’s decision

On Thursday, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed the law, according to which "individuals who are citizens or subjects of a state recognized by the Verkhovna Rada as an aggressor country or an invader country" and also "individuals proposed [as observers] by the state recognized by the Verkhovna Rada as an aggressor country or an invader country" cannot monitor the presidential, parliamentary or local elections.

For his part, Peter Taylor, the current head of the OSCE ODIHR Election Monitoring Mission, pointed out that Kiev’s approach towards the issue contravened OSCE principles.

Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker urged Kiev to allow Russian nationals to monitor the presidential election under ODIHR authority.

Ukraine’s presidential election is scheduled for March 31.