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Churov Says Observers Get in Way

Central Elections Commission chief Vladimir Churov said Tuesday that excessive numbers of "so-called foreign observers" during upcoming State Duma elections would interfere with Russia's internal affairs. 

The presence of observers at each of the 95,000 polling stations would "at the very least" be tantamount to foreign interference, Churov told a news conference, Interfax reported. 

Churov -- who earlier this year praised monarchy as a form of government -- convened the news conference to defend his commission's decision to limit the number of foreign observers to the Dec. 2 elections. 

Some 330 to 350 international observers are expected to be in the country on election day, Churov said. Of these, around 100 will represent the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, he said. 

Observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE's election watchdog, criticized the 2003 Duma elections, which were monitored by a 450-person OSCE delegation. 

Despite the drastic reduction, the OSCE has confirmed that it will send monitors and has asked for the full cooperation of Russian officials. 

Around 30 observers will represent the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, while another 30 will represent the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Churov said.


(The Moscow Times 07.xi.07)

 
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