US state department calls Russia's bluff, welcomes observers to monitor voting on election day
Russia had earlier chosen not to join the OSCE observer mission and had applied directly to US states for accreditation. Photograph: (Reuters)
The US state department on Friday refuted allegations from Moscow that Americans states had refused the presence of Russian observers to monitor the US presidential election.
The state department spokesman John Kirby said there is no policy to refuse Russian observers, even if their requests smack of a propaganda stunt.
"We told the Russian government that they were welcome to observe our elections," Kirby said. "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," he added.
Kirby said that the Russian officials were offered places on a team being fielded by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors elections in all its member states, including the United States.
But the Russian observers had chosen not to join the OSCE observer mission and had applied directly to US states for accreditation, which they claimed had been refused.
A Russian electoral official, cited by a Russian newspaper Izvestia, accused the US state department of blocking the observers because of its "Russophobic tendencies."
Kirby said he was not aware that any advice had been given to individual US states over foreign observers and the states were free to take a decision, in case such a request is made.
"There's nothing for us to fear from having Russian observers observing our election. We're very confident in the stability, the security and the strength of our electoral process. There's no need to hide from that," adding that Washington would not stand in their way.
In the past, Moscow has been accused of trying to undermine the US presidential race through cyber attacks against US political targets.
(WION with inputs from agencies)