RUSSIA: PACE DELEGATION MAKES PRE-ELECTORAL VISIT TO MOSCOW
A selected delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will carry out a pre-electoral mission to Moscow on 8-11 February 2012, to assess the electoral framework and campaign ahead of the Russian presidential election on 4 March 2012. Led by Dutchman Tiny Kox, the delegation includes the Italian liberal Andrea Rigoni, the Polish socialist Tadeusz Iwiñski, the Norwegian democratic ¨yvind Vaksdal and the Lithuanian People’s Party leader Egidijus Vareikis. From 8th to 11th February, the five MEPs are due to meet the Speaker of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin, candidates in the presidential election, candidates disqualified from running, and the Russian delegation to the PACE. They will also meet the Chair of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov, the Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, as well as representatives of the diplomatic community, NGOs and the media. A full 30-member delegation from the Assembly will return to the country to observe the voting before making a final assessment. “Nowadays, Russia is at a crossroads –Rigoni states -. The new president of the Russian federation will have a chance to start a process for the democratisation of the institutions. A gradual “opening to democracy” would strengthen its “credibility and the its role as a great political and economic power”.