Russia raps OSCE election "double standards"

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2011 8:23 AM
Russia raps OSCE election "double standards"

By Denis Dyomkin and Roman Kozhevnikov

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Saturday accused the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of using double standards and attempting to influence the internal affairs of some ex-Soviet nations.

The OSCE, the world's largest security body with 56 member states from Europe, Central Asia and North America, has issued scathing reports about general elections in Russia and some of its ex-Soviet cousins, often rating them neither free nor fair.

Russia holds a parliamentary election in December, which the ruling United Russia party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win easily.

A presidential election follows next March at which either Putin, 58, who was president from 2000 to 2008, or Medvedev, 45, is likely to be the leading candidate.

Medvedev, speaking at a summit of the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States, uniting 11 ex-Soviet states, rapped the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights for sending "huge delegations" to monitor elections.

"Those international observers who come representing the OSCE at times openly demonstrate a politicised approach to the assessment of preparations for elections and of the way they are conducted," he told the summit, held in the Tajik capital.

"Let's call a spade a spade -- this approach is often based on double standards."

Medvedev made clear that he saw the negative assessment of elections in Russia and other ex-Soviet states by the OSCE as a means to bolster opposition forces in these states -- a view also aired by Putin, widely seen as Russia's most powerful leader.

"Naturally, all of us are striving for free and democratic elections, but this does not mean open access for any external force that could try to shape the internal situation in our states from abroad," he said.

GREATER ROLE FOR CIS OBSERVERS

In contrast to their Western colleagues, observer missions from CIS nations have routinely issued highly complementary reports about presidential and parliamentary elections held even in the most authoritarian states, including Russia's ally Belarus and the countries of Central Asia.

Medvedev said the sending of observers from CIS parliaments was "a success": "I think it important to ensure an even greater role of this mission in monitoring elections in our countries.

"This would ... greatly assist the consolidation of democracy and a comprehensive development of the political systems of our states."

Nikolai Bordyuzha, who heads the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), echoed Medvedev's concerns, saying the string of "Arab Spring" revolutions showed that foreign forces "can rock the situation in any country."

"These (events) have opened our eyes to many things," he told reporters on the sidelines of the summit. "Because every state has an infrastructure that can be used to rock the situation, such as information resources, controlled or funded by other states, non-government organizations and foundations.

"There are professional revolutionaries trained elsewhere -- specifically to make revolutions happen in their own countries."

Bordyuzha declined to answer questions on whether the CSTO, which includes rapid reaction units from Russia and other six CIS states, could use force to quell protests in any of its members.

The CSTO did not send troops to stop ethnic riots in its member Kyrgyzstan in June last year, when more than 400 people were killed.

(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Kevin Liffey)