Russia’s parliamentary elections are underway for reindeer handlers, military personnel and others in the remotest regions of the vast nation. The rest of the population votes on December the second, but the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has thrown in the towel on monitoring the ballot.
It was invited to oversee the election from its base in Warsaw and validate the ballot’s democratic credentials, but says this is now impossible because the Russian authorities are refusing to co-operate. The Russian foreign ministry has just reacted, saying the OSCE’s reasons are “invented”, but the European Union also expressed its concern today, stressing Russia had obligations as it is an OSCE member.
In the last parliamentary elections in 2003 over a thousand international observers were admitted to Russia. Putin’s United Russia party is expected to win the vote, which may allow him to become prime minister after the end of his maximum two-term presidential limit.