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14 March 201413:07

Comment by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding statements by the OSCE Chair-in-Office about the Referendum in Crimea on the 16 March 2014

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The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was disappointed by the statement of the OSCE Chair-in-Office, Swiss President, Didier Burkhalter, of the 11 March that the referendum in Crimea is allegedly "contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and must be considered illegal", therefore the presidency "excluded the possibility" of it being observed by the OSCE.

Russia is absolutely convinced that the Crimean referendum is absolutely legitimate and fully corresponds with the will of the Crimean people. According to the CSCE's Helsinki Final Act of 1975 "all people always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference".

I would like to recall that according to the decision of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Porto in 2002 "Role of the OSCE Chairmanship-In-Office", any actions of the chairmanship should ensure "that the whole spectrum of opinions of participating States is taken into account". We expect the Swiss presidency to follow this mandate closely.

We regret that the Swiss Chairmanship made statements regarding the referendum in Crimea, but keeps silent about the issue of the legality of the coup d'état in Ukraine, the current Kiev regime and the legality of its actions. We hope that any potential assessments of these issues by the chairmanship will take the Russian opinion into account.

As is known, on the 10 March, an invitation from the official Crimean authorities to send observers from member states of the Organisation and within the ambit of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to the referendum of the 16 March, was transferred to the OSCE. This invitation was justified by the specialisation of the ODIHR, which is the OSCE's cooperation partner, and which observes election processes in the entire OSCE space, including referendums and local level elections, as well as helping in the organisation of election processes in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeals to the OSCE's leaders, member states and the ODIHR to refute the practice of "double standards" and to review the invitation of the Crimean authorities to participate in the observation of the forthcoming referendum, which will contribute to the OSCE's fundamental principles and contribute to further de-escalation of the situation in the region.

14 March 2014

Diplomatic and consular missions of Russia

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