OSCE Criticizes Observer Restrictions

WARSAW -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Tuesday that Russia has placed severe limits on the work it can carry out during its March presidential election.

"The invitation that we received has serious restrictions both in terms of the number of observers and time they are allowed to observe," said Curtis Budden, spokesman for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE's Warsaw-based elections watchdog.

He said Moscow would allow the monitors to enter Russia on Feb. 28, which would not give them enough time to prepare to observe the March 2 vote.

Central Elections Commission chief Vladimir Churov announced Monday that the country has invited only 400 international monitors to observe the presidential election -- half the number that participated four years ago.