Fewer observers to monitor Russia vote

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MOSCOW, Oct 29 (Reuters) No more than 400 international observers will monitor Russia's December 2 parliamentary vote, the country's election chief said today, substantially fewer than at previous votes.

Russian officials have expressed reservations about the West ''lecturing'' it on its democratic record and have delayed issuing an invitation to monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Vladimir Churov, chairman of Russia's Central Election Commission, told a news conference invitations would be sent out to international observers tomorrow but that numbers of observers would be from 300 to 400.

He said that included election monitors ''of all types'', including those from the OSCE, the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent states and a number of other bodies.

At Russia's previous parliamentary election in 2003, the OSCE alone sent 400 short-term observers to observe how the vote was conducted on polling day.

REUTERS SKB KN1747

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