European authorities are decrying a move by Russia to cut the number of international observers at its upcoming December 2 vote from 465 to 70 individuals.
A spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which organizes vote-monitoring teams, said the plan would greatly reduce its capacity for “meaningful observation,” reports the International Herald Tribune.
The cutbacks come amid increasing concerns of a return to authoritarian rule. Changes in election laws will largely prevent opposition candidates from winning seats, and according to the BBC, televised debates have been scheduled for “off peak” times, such as mid-morning or late at night.
United Russia, the largest party supporting the agenda of President Vladimir Putin, has chosen to skip the debates altogether, bringing sharp criticism from the Moscow Helsinki Group, an outspoken human rights group.
“Russia moves to cut elections oversight in ex-Soviet states”
International Herald Tribune, October 31, 2007
“Russia ‘Curbing Poll Observers'”
BBC News, October 31, 2007