Russia Rejects OSCE's Ire As 'Games'

The Foreign Ministry accused Europe's main security organization on Friday of playing political games in the dispute over election monitors weeks before a key presidential election.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has criticized Moscow for placing "unprecedented" limits on election observers seeking to monitor the March 2 vote. The OSCE said it may refrain from sending a mission if Moscow refuses to reconsider those conditions.

Sergei Ryabkov, head of the Foreign Ministry's European Cooperation Department, said the OSCE had no grounds for such complaints. He said the conditions proposed by Russia will allow election monitors to carry out a proper assessment of the election.

"These are political games that we reject and are not going to take part in," Ryabkov said Friday.

The Central Elections Commission says it has invited 400 international monitors, including 70 from the OSCE, to observe the presidential election -- half the number that participated four years ago.

Moscow said it would allow OSCE monitors into the country on Feb. 28; the OSCE said it was not enough time to adequately prepare to observe the vote.

Ryabkov accused the OSCE of trying "to politicize the situation" and to "sow doubts about Russia's readiness to fulfill its obligations" on allowing independent monitoring of its election process.

"We are fulfilling all our obligations, but we cannot and will not over-fulfill them," Ryabkov told reporters.