WASHINGTON – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), and Ranking Minority Members Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), issued the following joint statement regarding a decision by the Russian Federation to limit the number of election observers for its upcoming March 2 presidential elections:
“Russia’s decision to restrict the number of election observers is quite unfortunate and undermines an essential aspect of the OSCE and Parliamentary Assembly’s ongoing work to foster democracy through free and fair elections. It is not only troubling that the short-term observation mission has been limited, but that the long-term mission whose job is to observe the quality of the campaign period for at least two months, will not be feasible given restrictions being imposed by Moscow.
“All OSCE participating States – regardless of the level of their democratic development – are obligated under longstanding OSCE commitments to invite observation of their elections. Several dozen OSCE countries, including the United States, have hosted election observation missions, with the decision to deploy a mission left to the OSCE. As Russian observers joined us in 2004, we hope that they and others come to observe our upcoming elections in November.
“We have no doubt that the March 2 elections are very important to Russia’s future. We urge the Russian Federation to work with the OSCE and Parliamentary Assembly to resolve this unfortunate situation,” said Hastings, Cardin, Smith, and Brownback.