OSCE General Secretary regrets ban on Russian observers at Ukrainian elections, calls for free, fair election
OSCE General Secretary Thomas Greminger has expressed regret and concern in connection with the ban on Russian citizens to officially observe upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine.
I share the regret and concern of the director of the ODIHR (OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights), because not strictly following the observation methodology is not very good, Greminger said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
He added that the OSCE would do everything it can.
Of course, there will be one participating state (Russia - OSCE member), which will especially criticize the fact that there are no Russian observers. At present, I will refrain from further comment. A lot has been said, and now let's focus on doing everything possible to create conditions that allow for free and fair elections, Greminger said.
The OSCE Secretary General said he is following with interest what is happening in Ukraine. He refrained from assessing the events, arguing that it is better to talk about this with long-term observers who arrived in the country in February.
At present, the most important OSCE event with regard to elections is an observation operation. This is the main priority, and we want to do everything possible to ensure that these elections are free and fair, he said.
As reported, on February 7, 2019 Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada adopted a law that prohibited citizens of the Russian Federation and persons proposed by the Russian side to be official observers at the presidential, parliamentary and local elections in Ukraine.
On February 11, ODIHR Spokesman Thomas Rymer said the invitation to participate in the observation mission was sent to all OSCE member states. He said ODIHR adheres to the same established practice and methodology for the presidential elections in Ukraine as for all other election observation missions.
Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said Moscow would send its candidates to the short-term OSCE/ODIHR mission in Ukraine in accordance with the invitation received on February 12.
Presidential elections in Ukraine will be held on March 31.