Ukraine looks to have faced down both the Kremlin and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe over the issue of Russian election observers at its presidential election in March. The OSCE was forced to change stance after Ukraine adamantly refused to accept Russian observers of the March 31 vote, and its parliament on Feb. 7 passed a law banning them from being accredited to the OSCE mission. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced a day later that Russia had decided not to send its observers to Ukraine. And the OSCE, while expressing regret over the Ukrainian authorities’ position, also backed down.
“The Ukrainian authorities have made it clear that Russian citizens will not be accredited, and there is no way to observe without such accreditation,” Thomas Rymer, spokesperson at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights or ODIHR, said on Feb. 8, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.
Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, director of the OSCE ODIHR, said in a statement issued by the organization on Feb. 7 that she regretted the Ukrainian authorities’ decision. She said that observers sent to take part in election observations missions do not represent their respective countries, but rather the entire OSCE.