Alexander Klyukin, Member of the CEC of Russia: OSCE/ODIHR activities in the electoral direction need to be restructured

From an intervention at the «Democratic Institutions» session during the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw on 17 September 2019

Last year, the electoral system of the Russian Federation celebrated its 25th anniversary. All these years, the electoral institution in our country was improving, the electoral legislation was developing, also by taking into account recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR. Russia fulfills all its OSCE commitments, including the 1990 Copenhagen Document, in terms of holding democratic election campaigns and inviting international observers.

Representatives of the Russian Federation traditionally take active part in ODIHR observation missions in other OSCE countries.

This year, Russians watched the parliamentary elections in Moldova (24 February 2019) and the presidential election in Kazakhstan (9 June 2019). We also intend to send our observers to the parliamentary elections in Belarus (17 November 2019) and Uzbekistan (December 2019).

Despite their declared commitment to OSCE obligations, not all participating States are ready to fulfill them in practice. We condemn non-admission by Ukraine of Russian citizens, including as part of the ODIHR monitoring mission, to participate in monitoring the Presidential (March and April 2019) and Parliamentary elections (July 2019). Such actions of Kiev, explained by the hastily adopted law, contradict OSCE commitments and democratic standards.

Unfortunately, ODIHR, having received the denial by the CEC of Ukraine, was unable to show the principled position and send a clear signal to the Ukrainian authorities condemning the politicized steps of Kiev and requesting to withdraw the denial of accreditation of Russian representatives. The report of the Bureau on the results of the observation of the Ukrainian elections also does not contain any evaluation of this situation, except for a laconic statement of fact. We consider that ODIHR in this way once again demonstrated its political engagement.

Other questions remain regarding the Office's election observation activities. According to decision No. 19/06, adopted at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Brussels in 2006, ODIHR, as part of its electoral activities, should «ensure the widest possible geographical coverage». However, we still see a significant imbalance in the geography of deployment and the size of the missions.

We emphasize once again that maintaining such an unsatisfactory state of affairs is directly related to the lack of an agreed methodological base for election observation. The Bureau continues to determine the order of observation arbitrarily, without consensus approval by all participating States of the Organization. The constant replication by our Western colleagues of the thesis of the so-called «gold standard» of the ODIHR does not withstand criticism. Any «standard» throughout the Organization can be built only on clear rules and a transparent decision-making procedure with full consent of all participating States.

We continue to insist that the OSCE / ODIHR’s electoral activities must be restructured, seeking, first of all, to realize the principles of independence and impartiality. We also draw attention to the fact that the OSCE commitments in the electoral sphere have not changed significantly since the 1990 CSCE Copenhagen Meeting Basic Document. This confirms the long-due need for their updating taking into account modern realities and new challenges.

The Bureau needs transparent rules for making decisions on the fielding or non-fielding of observer missions, a transparent procedure for the appointment of missions’ senior leaders and the formation of their core teams, clear and uniform criteria for evaluation of elections. It is worth reminding that as far back as 2007, Russian Federation together with a number of countries introduced a draft document «Basic Principles for Organizing Observation of National Elections through the OSCE/ODIHR». However, its discussion was blocked by a number of Western states.


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