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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

OSCE Sends Smaller, Quicker Monitoring Group

Election observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are to arrive in Moscow on Wednesday, just days ahead of Sunday's State Duma elections.

The arrival of the 40-person delegation comes less than two weeks after the OSCE's Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights took the unprecedented step of canceling its planned observer mission of 70 people, saying Moscow had prevented election monitors from receiving visas in time to fulfill their mission properly.

The delegation arriving Wednesday includes 31 lawmakers from 20 countries, Spencer Oliver, secretary general of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, told a news conference Tuesday in Moscow.

"This is a very important event, and what happens in the next few days and on Sunday will have a major effect on international events," Oliver said.

Russia's attitude toward the assembly has annoyed diplomats in Vienna, where the OSCE is headquartered, the International Herald Tribune reported Monday. They say Russia is trying to play off one OSCE body against another to weaken the ODIHR's strong monitoring program, the newspaper said.

The monitoring methods of the assembly's observers varies from the ODIHR's, which sends teams months in advance. The assembly's monitors will stay a maximum of six days in Russia, Oliver said.

The Central Elections Commission offered invitations for 55 delegates, but the assembly limited itself to 40 after difficulties in getting more deputies to sign up because of their domestic legislative responsibilities, Oliver said.