Comments and statements by Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Comment by the Information and Press Department on the refusal to accredit the OSCE’s Russian observers at the Ukrainian presidential election
The media reported the other day that the Central Election Commission of Ukraine had refused to allow the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to accredit 24 Russian citizens, members of the ODIHR mission, to observe the country’s presidential election. In February 2019, the ODIHR was also refused permission to accredit two female Russian citizens as long-term observers of the election monitoring mission. These actions are currently “justified” by the new legislative amendments approved by the Vekhovna Rada posthaste in February when the ODIHR mission was already being deployed in Ukraine.
In reality, the discriminatory actions by the Ukrainian authorities deprive Russian experts of an opportunity to take part in the ODIHR election observation mission. In this situation, the Russian Federation is forced to abstain from sending its observers to Ukraine, so as not to subject them to the threat of deliberate persecution.
By its actions, Kiev has once again discredited itself. The letter and spirit of the Copenhagen Document and other OSCE obligations in the area of elections have been rudely violated. The decision by Ukrainian authorities not to open polling stations at Ukrainian foreign missions in Russia also fits into this pattern. This decision has deprived millions of Ukrainians staying in Russia of the chance to exercise their constitutional right. The electoral rights of Ukrainian citizens in Donbass as well as thousands of internally displaced persons are also infringed upon. Senior OSCE and ODIHR officials, as well as those of OSCE member states, realise this; many of their representatives have repeatedly urged Kiev not to violate international democratic standards.
Kiev’s illegal actions with regard to the OSCE’s Russian observers are reflected in the March 15, 2019 interim report of the ODIHR monitoring mission. The document also contains other criticisms concerning the election campaign, such as failure to fulfil recommendations made after the previous election, misuse of state assets, bribing voters, using administrative resources, opening criminal cases against presidential candidates, the biased attitude of the Central Election Commission and national courts, voter-registration problems, drawbacks in the work of territorial election commissions, etc. According to ODIHR, all this is taking place at a time when the people of Ukraine distrust institutions of state authority, when journalists face security problems, when media outlets are concentrated in the hands of only a few owners, and when legislative initiatives are made to restrict media freedom and the access to online resources. These assessments call into question the legitimacy of the upcoming election returns.
Judging by what we are now witnessing in Ukraine, Kiev obviously has something to hide from its people and the international community.
We intend to continue carefully following the election campaign in Ukraine and to closely cooperate with the ODIHR and OSCE executive agencies that are called on to monitor the situation regarding democracy and human rights in this country and to facilitate compliance with them.
Despite the absence of Russian observers in the country, we expect the ODIHR to provide the international community with an objective, authentic and honest assessment after the Ukrainian election, without paying attention to politically biased attitudes and without fearing a negative response from the Western-patronised Ukrainian authorities.