The Russian media are publishing stories claiming that about 150 international observers will monitor the October election–uncritically repeating a statement made by Anatoly Popov, the Moscow-recognized administration’s prime minister and acting president, at an August 14 press conference in Moscow. Popov specifically mentioned the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations. He and his colleagues are clearly trying to create the impression that experienced, respected human rights specialists will be watching the election closely and giving it their seal of approval as free and fair.
But if one reads the news articles more closely, one finds that this impression is false. An article by the website Newsru.com earlier this week began with the headline, “12 international organizations will monitor the election in Chechnya.” The very next line, however, stated that twelve organizations had been invited to observe the election–not that they had accepted.
Moreover, it is not clear how many of these organizations have serious experience or credibility as election monitors. Three of the five specifically mentioned in the Newsru.com article are the executive committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conferences. Most of the national governments represented by these bodies do not have free and fair elections themselves.