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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Veshnyakov Lashes Out at the OSCE

VIENNA, Austria -- Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov lashed out Thursday at the OSCE's election monitoring activities, accusing the group of applying double standards and politicizing reports.

Veshnyakov, in Vienna to participate in an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting on election monitoring, also accused the group's observers of using poor methodology and meddling in countries' internal affairs.

International monitoring has ceased to be "an instrument of assisting states in implementing the principles of democracy," Veshnyakov told reporters.

Instead, it has become "an instrument of legitimizing political decisions which concern the state of international relations with a given country or several countries," he argued.

Russia, itself an OSCE member, has been critical of the OSCE following observers' critical reports of elections held in former Soviet republics.

In Ukraine and Georgia, votes won by pro-Western leaders were held following OSCE reports noting flaws. OSCE observers also criticized the March 13 runoff of Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary election.

Veshnyakov said Russia was dissatisfied with "the politicized nature of the outcome of election monitoring, and the so-called use of double standards whereby certain violations of procedure are differently assessed in different countries."

Russia also found problems with the group's "monitoring procedures and technological work, as well as methodological assessments of the results of the vote," Veshnyakov said.

Bruce George, a British lawmaker who led the OSCE's election missions in Ukraine and Russia, defended the group's observation methods and reports. "It is not our mission to change regimes," he said. "It is our role to comment upon elections, and the sad fact is that many countries have persistently corrupt elections."

George, who is running for re-election in Britain's May 5 election, said the group had sophisticated methodology, dedicated staff and guidelines ensuring a reliable, objective result. "The problem lies with those countries that have not the slightest intention of adhering to those commitments that they signed up for," he said.

The OSCE has been operating without a budget since the beginning of the year after Russia refused to approve budget proposals, arguing its payments ought to be reduced. The group has kept its basic operations going by billing members according to last year's budget.