#17 - JRL 7250
Russian Electoral Commission Unveils Procedures for Foreign Election Monitors
July 10, 2003
Report by Tamara Shkel:
"Observers Called to Order"
Yesterday (9 July), the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) explained the procedure for the activities of foreign (international) observers at the State Duma elections.
The CEC attempted to collate in a single document all electoral laws so that the foreigners monitoring our elections and electoral commissions find it easier to understand one another. However, there is one new feature: Foreign observers will now have the right to place their signatures on the sealed sacks or boxes in which voting slips and verification certificates are packed following the count.
"We are doing everything to make the electoral procedures transparent and open, not least for the international observers," CEC Deputy Chairman Oleg Velyashev says.
They have the right to meet with candidates and agents, attend electoral commission meetings of various levels during early elections, vote counting and recounting, establishment of results, and drawing up of returns; be present at poling places on election day right from the start of the precinct commission's work until the commission confirms the return; examine the electoral register after it has been verified; observe the issue of voting slips and check cancelled ballots; and obtain from the precinct electoral commission authenticated, signed returns. In short, there are no secrets. The only thing that is not stipulated in the rules for foreigners observing our elections is their presence at voting away from polling places. But for this the voters themselves must show good will -- and let them into their homes.
It is also envisaged that the foreign observers will be held responsible for violating regulations and using their status for purposes other than observing the elections.
But this does not intimidate the foreigners who, since Russia signed the international agreement on observers in Copenhagen in 1990, have taken great interest in all Russian elections. More than 1,000 foreign observers followed the last parliamentary and presidential election campaigns. Oleg Velyashev predicts that there will be a greater number at the upcoming federal elections. What is more, the international monitors will be drawn a long way from Moscow into Russia's heartland.