Russian diplomats warned over monitoring US election

Following a proposal by Russia to provide election monitors for the upcoming U.S. elections, the Russian embassy announced it had been told efforts to send diplomats to polling places were denied by the State Department and would be considered a criminal act by three states.

Described by the U.S. as a “PR stunt”, Russia says it is “baffled” by the response, particularly amid charges by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that the voting process is rife with fraud. The Kremlin had volunteered the services of its Central Elections Commission to observe the Nov. 8 general election.

After their overture was rejected by three states, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, and met with further resistance by the State Department, the Russian embassy released a statement which reminded the U.S. government election monitoring is a normal routine of a diplomatic mission and, in part, read:

“We have not submitted any requests to the Department of State regarding the election observation. As a matter of respectfully conducting our diplomatic duties we sent the information on our intentions to the Department of State.  We received mostly negative responses, including threats that our interest and presence at polling stations could be seen as a criminal act.”

Responding to the Russian offer to monitor the election, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters the U.S. does not have a specific policy to refuse Russian observers, but the department had extended an invitation to Russia to monitor the election as part of the OSCE contingent expected to observe November voting.

“The fact that they have chosen to not join the OSCE observation mission makes clear that this issue is nothing more than a PR stunt,” Kirby told reporters.

Moscow’s proposition is somewhat ironic given that, earlier in October, the American government issued an official statement accusing Russia of being behind the infiltration of Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails, which have embarrassed both parties.

 

[Politico] [Photo courtesy osce.usmission.gov]