Monitoring Invitations Will Go to Different Observers

Russia will increase the number of invitations to monitors from the Parliamentary Assemblies of the European Council, the OSCE and CIS, Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Duma's international affairs committee said Monday.

State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov sent letters to the heads of the three organizations Monday, asking them to increase the number of monitors by 25 each, Kosachyov said, Interfax reported.

"Thus, we are proposing to increase the number of foreign monitors from interparliamentary structures by 75 more people," Kosachyov said on a business trip in Berlin. That would bring the total number of these monitors to 165.

Kosachyov said the decision was made following advice from interparliamentary organizations visiting Russia on "pre-election" missions over the previous 10 days.

"We have nothing to hide," he said.

If the three international parliamentary monitors accept the proposal, this would compensate for last week's refusal by the OSCE's democracy watchdog to send its monitors to Russia following their failure to receive Russian visas, Kosachyov said.

State Duma elections are scheduled for December 2.

The OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly said Monday that it would send only a 30-person, short-term observation mission, Bloomberg reported.

In an unprecedented move, the OSCE's Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or ODIHR, on Friday canceled its planned observer mission of 70 people, saying Moscow had prevented election monitors from receiving visas in time to fulfill their mission properly.

n Russia is reviewing whether to invite observers from the European watchdog OSCE to monitor next year's presidential election, the election chief said on Monday.

Central Elections Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov said following ODIHR's pullout that Russia was undecided on whether to invite the body for the March presidential vote.