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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Invitations Go Out to Poll Observers

The State Duma began sending out invitations to international observers to monitor the upcoming elections on Tuesday, less than five weeks before the Dec. 2 vote.

"The invitation was received by fax this afternoon," Klas Bergman, spokesman for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said by telephone from Copenhagen.

But the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights had not received anything Tuesday evening, spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. A spokeswoman for the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly expected to receive an invitation Wednesday.

The lateness of the invitations has raised uncertainty among observers, who said any delay made their work more difficult.

Central Elections Commission chief Vladimir Churov has said the number of international observers will be limited to 300 to 400, compared with 1,100 for the last elections, in 2003.

The number is insufficient for the country's 95,000 polling stations, Golos, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations tracking elections, said Tuesday. "That number alone is necessary to cover Moscow and the Moscow region," Golos head Lilia Shebanova said, Interfax reported.

Churov said observers from many organizations would be invited, including the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Nordic Council, a forum of Scandinavian countries.

The OSCE has said it is likely to send just half as many observers as in 2003, when the 56-member security body dispatched 450 observers to Russia. The OSCE said after those elections that they were a step back in Russia's transition to democracy.