International Observation, Presidential Election 2008

A number of intergovernmental organizations regularly monitor the conduct of elections by sending teams of observers, by agreement with the national government where the election is held. These include the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The Russian Federation is a member of both organisations, and there is provision for foreign observers in Russian law.

After inconclusive discussions, the Russian authorities issued invitations for 70 ODIHR observers--for details, click here. The ODIHR refused the invitation stating in a press release that the conditions of the invitation would not permit independent observation.

In a televised interview on 14 February, President Putin described the actions of the ODIHR as inconsistent with Russian sovereignty and outside the framework of the committments to which Russia has signed up.

A delegation of PACE did send a delegation of 22 observers to the 2008 presidential election, and it issued a statement afterwards concluding that the result of the "is a reflection of the will of an electorate whose democratic potential was, unfortunately, not tapped". The delegation noted that the cumbersome and non-inclusive procedure for independent candidates to register and the lack of equal access to the media and to the public sphere in general placed the fairness of the election in doubt. However, the PACE delegation also expressed the view that even if these concerns had been addressed, the result of the election would not have been different. For details, click here.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) observer mission issued declaration endorsing the presidential election as free, open and transparent, in line with national legislation and with commonly recognized norms. A small number of technical violations were noted, but none of a systemic character. The declaration characterized the procedure for nomination of candidates as "competitive" and "offering choices", and the media coverage for all candidates as "neutral" and "positive in tone."