Individual observers at the 2021 Russian parliamentary election

Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext, Russia imposed limitations on the election observation mission by the most respectable and influential monitoring institution, OSCE ODIHR. The OSCE assessed that it would need to deploy 80 long-term and 420 short-term observers in Russia, but Moscow would invite only 60 OSCE observers. Eventually, the OSCE was compelled not so send its observers to Russia. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) did not send a regular election observation mission either, but it did send an Election Assessment Mission composed of five representatives of all five political groups in the Council of Europe.

Against this background, Russian authorities felt they needed loyal and uncritical international election observation for the parliamentary elections on 17-19 September 2021 even to a greater extent than before. In an attempt to give the impression of international legitimation of the parliamentary elections, Russian authorities reportedly brought in 383 “international observers” and “experts” from 80 countries. Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) was in charge of accrediting 245 “international observers” from 59 countries invited by the Russian parliament – they were largely representatives from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, Parliamentary Assembly of Belarus-Russia Union and some others. These international organisations and institutions never voice criticism of the elections conducted by Putin’s regime.