The Russian Duma is up in arms over the fact that the OSCE has provided $350,000 to finance next Monday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Chechnya. The Duma says this means that the OSCE, of which Russia is a participating state, is treating Chechnya like an independent country. The Duma is therefore planning to call for the expulsion of the head of the OSCE mission to Chechnya, the highly respected Swiss diplomat Tim Guldimann. (Itar-Tass, January 22)
The Duma intended to debate this issue yesterday, but got sidetracked by a fruitless emergency debate on whether to try to impeach Boris Yeltsin. The Duma now intends to debate the subject on Friday. The Duma has received moral support from Russian foreign minister Yevgeni Primakov, who yesterday stated that the Russian government had not given the OSCE permission to provide financial support for Chechnya’s elections. Guldimann insists he did have Russian approval and that he is acting within his mandate. While broad, Guldimann’s mandate was drawn up with Russian participation. It was, like all OSCE decisions, approved by Russia along with all other participating states in early 1995 when the OSCE decided to send an assistance group (as, in a concession to Russian sensitivities, the mission is officially called) to Chechnya.
The OSCE has sent a financial report to the Russian government showing that the costs of preparing the elections and dispatching foreign observers total $670,000. The report was sent in an effort to dispel allegations that the OSCE was providing funds to specific candidates. The Chechen authorities rejected financial and other assistance offered by Russia’s Central Election Commission and do not recognize the jurisdiction of Russian electoral legislation on Chechen territory.
OSCE Names Team to Observe Chechen Elections.