WASHINGTON, August 6. /TASS/. The United States regrets that the restrictions imposed by Russian authorities in light of the coronavirus pandemic won’t make it possible for the OSCE to send observers to the upcoming State Duma (lower house of parliament) elections, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Thursday.
"The United States regrets that restrictions imposed by Russian authorities will prevent the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly from independently observing the Duma elections in September. We respect ODIHR’s professional determination that "the decision by the Russian authorities to introduce limitations to the election observation made credible independent observation impossible." We fully support ODIHR and the Parliamentary Assembly in their principled position that they cannot effectively observe the elections under such restrictive circumstances," the statement reads. "Even though OSCE election observers cannot be present, the international community will be watching the Duma elections process - in the run-up to the elections as well as on Election Day - to determine whether the conditions are conducive to the holding of free and fair elections. Russia will not escape the international spotlight."
The OSCE announced its decision not to send observers on Wednesday. According to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) chief Matteo Mecacci, it is crucial for the organization to independently determine the necessary number of observers.
The 8th State Duma (lower house of parliament) elections are scheduled for September 19. The voting will stretch over three days, September 17, 18, and 19. Simultaneously, there will be direct elections for the heads of nine Russian regions (in three others, top executive officials will be elected by local legislatures) and 39 regional parliaments.