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High-ranking OSCE election observers arrive in Ukraine

Over 100 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly observers will be working in the country on March 31

KIEV, March 28. /TASS/. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) and head of the PA’s observer mission Doris Barnett (MP, Germany) have arrived in Ukraine for the March 31 presidential election, the OSCE PA website informed on Thursday.

Over 100 OSCE PA observers will be working in the country on election day, the message added.

Earlier, the PA OSCE press service informed that Kanerva would serve as Special Coordinator and head of the short-term OSCE observer mission, appointed by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak. Kanerva, who currently serves as OSCE PA Special Representative on Mediation, has been deployed on observer missions to Russia and Ukraine in the past.

"Five years since the Euromaidan and the onset of military hostilities in the east of the country, Ukraine has an opportunity to renew its commitment to ongoing reforms to the benefit of its future development," Kanerva stated. "I hope to observe a competitive, peaceful and democratic presidential election," he added. In his role as special coordinator, Kanerva will deliver a statement on the outcomes of the election on April 1.

Doris Barnett has served as head of the PA’s observer mission in two previous elections - in Ukraine in 2014 and in Azerbaijan in 2013.

"Holding an election that meets OSCE commitments is important for Ukraine’s democratic development and its international relations. It is also important for the stability and security of the wider region," Barnett said. "The OSCE PA looks forward to continuing our good co-operation with Ukrainian authorities as we deploy one of our largest missions ever."

During the March 31 election, the OSCE PA will cooperate with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and the European Parliament.

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission earlier refused to register 24 Russian OSCE/ODIHR members as short-term observers. Prior to that, the commission denied registration to two long-term observers from Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that refusal to register OSCE-endorsed observers who have Russian citizenship was illegitimate.