Russia's parliament, the State Duma in Moscow. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

OSCE will not send observers to monitor Russian Duma Elections

Limitations imposed by Russian authorities hinder OSCE’s ability to independently observe the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 17-19.
August 06, 2021


For the first time since 1993, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe will not have any observers present during the national Duma elections in Russia, the organization said on Wednesday.

Both the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and its Parliamentary Assembly were invited to Russia as observers, but Moscow insisted on limiting the number of observers.

“We very much regret that our observation of the forthcoming elections in Russia will not be possible,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci.

“But the ability to independently determine the number of observers necessary for us to observe effectively and credibly is essential to all international observation. The insistence of the Russian authorities on limiting the number of observers we could send without any clear pandemic-related restrictions has unfortunately made today’s step unavoidable,” said Mecacci.

The OSCE was told by Russian authorities it could send 60 observers and argued the low number was due to the sanitary-epidemiological situation. Russia has over the last month seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections.

OSCE said in a statement there would be a need for 80 long-term observers and 420 short-term observers for elections.

“The authorities’ decision to severely restrict the number of observers would undermine the effectiveness and credibility of OSCE election observation. I therefore fully agree with the decision to stand up for independent observation based on our own assessments,” noted Roberto Montella, Secretary-General of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA).


“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSCE PA, like ODIHR, has carefully refined its processes and has safely deployed several hundred observers in numerous countries without such limitations being imposed, and I am confident that we would have done so once again,” Montella said.

Commenting on Russian authority’s COVID-19 arguments, OSCE noted that “at present, no pandemic-related entry restrictions or rules about operating and moving within the country would seem to prevent the deployment of a full election observation mission in line with ODIHR’s initial assessment.”


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