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OSCE mission promises to assess Russian State Duma elections objectively

Elections to the 450-seat Russian State Duma will be held on September 18

MOSCOW, August 8. /TASS/. Head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) election observation mission Jan Petersen has assured Russia that observers will rely on facts when assessing the parliamentary election in Russia, member of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) Vasily Likhachev told TASS on Monday.

"The most important thing is that his attitude toward this mission is very calm," Likhachev said after Petersen’s meeting with CEC leadership.

In the framework of preparations for this mission, "different people from OSCE ODIHR gave Petersen different recommendations on how to hold monitoring," Likhachev said. Petersen said that his main working principle is "no surprises," he added.

"Petersen said that (OSCE ODIHR) assessments will be based on facts, on realities, on observations. OSCE ODIHR will try to avoid a subjective, biased approach," Likhachev noted.

According to Vasily Likhachev, the observer mission of the OSCE ODIHR will present a report on preparations for voting ahead of the parliamentary elections in Russia.

"They are going to make a report on preparations for election in Russia before the day of voting. This is new for us. They think that they should assess the current procedures," Likhachev said.

On the next day after the elections, representatives of OSCE ODIHR will give "an assessment press conference," he continued. "We said it many times and will say it again that these assessments should not be political. They should assess the condition of Russian legislature, law enforcement practice, but they should not make any tough assessments of behavior of state institutions as this contradicts Russian laws and those recommendations on international observation that CEC developed and adopted," Likhachev reminded.

The OSCE ODIHR election observation mission will present a general report two months after the election day - by the end of November, the CEC member said. The composition of the mission serves as evidence that OSCE ODIHR wanted to ensure "balance of approaches and methodology in assessing Russian elections, considering different statuses of relations between Russia and OSCE member countries," Likhachev noted adding that among members of the mission are observers from Romania, Poland, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Belarus, and Macedonia.

The first group of OSCE ODIHR international observers at upcoming parliamentary elections has held separate meetings with the Russian Foreign Ministry and CEC earlier today. 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 500 observers to Russia - 80 long-term and 420 short-term observers.

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 kicked off. 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.