Lavrov warns OSCE poll monitor against ultimatums to Russia

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Moscow, Feb 7(UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today warned the The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) poll monitoring wing, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) against issuing ultimatums to Russia over sending observers for the presidential poll to be held on March 2.

The ODIHR wants to send at least 50 of its observers to Russia on February 15, five days before the date proposed by Moscow, in order to meaningfully monitor the election campaign.

It regrets that the restrictions imposed on the scheduled monitoring mission do not allow it to deploy a mission for monitoring the Russian presidential election on March 2, 2008, it said in a press release today.

''This is an ultimatum. A self-respecting country never accepts ultimatums,'' Mr Lavrov said at a press conference here.

The Minister strongly criticized the Warsaw-based ODIHR for ''inventing its own rules'' and being ''absolutely non-transparent.'' ''In its dealings with Russia, the organisation has felt the need to rigidly insist, I would even say impolitely, that they need to arrive a month in advance, when it is not clear what they would spend that time doing.'' he said.

The Secretary General of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Spencer Oliver, has replied with a refusal to Russia's letter inviting OSCE observers for the Russian presidential election, Interfax reported.

In a statement distributed by e-mail with an attached letter addressed to the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, the organization said that circumstances do allow it to monitor this election.

UNI XC SZ RAI1907

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