The election observation mission (EOM) of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) confirms there will be no Russian observers at elections in Ukraine.
"The Ukrainian authorities have made it clear that Russian citizens will not be accredited, and there is no way to observe without such accreditation. As such, the Russians have decided not to send them," ODIHR representative Thomas Rymer told UNIAN in an exclusive comment.
"As they will not be in Ukraine, there is no way they could join the (EOM) team there," he said.
Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir earlier expressed her regret over the decision by the Ukrainian authorities to block Russian citizens from taking part in the ODIHR election observation mission for the March 31 presidential election in Ukraine.
In a letter to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ODIHR Director also expressed her deep disappointment at the passing today by the parliament of a law that would formalize such a restriction. "The decision to deny the possibility of accreditation to citizens of one participating State is without precedent and contravenes commitments made by all participating States to invite observers from any other OSCE participating States that may wish to observe election proceedings to the extent permitted by law," she wrote.
She underlined that observers sent to take part in ODIHR election observations missions do not represent their respective countries, but rather the entire OSCE. They are obliged to follow ODIHR's election observation methodology and are bound by the Office's strict code of conduct for election observers, including remaining strictly impartial and not intervening in the election process in any way.
The ODIHR Director also stressed that the inclusion of election observers from all OSCE participating States that choose to contribute is a central principle of her Office's election observation mandate. She highlighted that this was one of a concrete range of human dimension commitments the countries have made, such as in strengthening democratic institutions and practices, including democratic elections.
On February 6, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine noted that it would not accept applications from any citizen of the Russian Federation for registration as official observers at elections in Ukraine. The ministry insists the refusal to register the holders of Russian passports is not contrary to Ukraine's international obligations in the context of free and democratic elections.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised to order the country's Border Service not to allow observers from the Russian Federation in Ukraine.
Russia's Foreign Ministry announced on February 8 it had decided not to send Russian citizens to Ukraine as part of the observation mission.
As UNIAN reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, on February 7 passed Bill No. 9524 "On Amendments to Certain Laws on Observing the Electoral Process in Ukraine" that bans citizens of the Russian Federation from being recruited as election observers for the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine.
Earlier, the Verkhovna Rada established that the presidential election would take place on March 31, 2019. The presidential election campaign began on December 31. Parliamentary elections are due late in October 2019. Ukraine's Central Election Commission eliminated all Ukrainian polling stations in the Russian Federation.