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Russia readying election observers to monitor U.S. midterms

October 5, 2018

Russian election officials are headed to the United States to prepare for monitoring next month’s midterms, a former member of Moscow’s Central Election Commission said Friday.

Members of Russia’s federal elections agency will travel to the U.S. on Sunday in order to monitor the upcoming midterms as part of a mission being organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, an intergovernmental group that lists both nations among its member states, said Vasily Likhachev, a former member of CEC.

The team of six Russians, including “two CEC members ... and representatives of Russian civic organizations related to the field of electoral technologies,” will spend five weeks in the U.S. participating in the mission, Mr. Likhachev told TASS, a state-run newswire.

“These six people were chosen based on the criteria developed together with the U.S.,” said Mr. Likhachev, and their participation is based on both OSCE regulations and the United Nation’s principles of cooperation, he told the outlet

“There is not much positive in Russian-U.S. relations at the moment, but this is a positive thing that will help improve relations. Our citizens will abide by the OSCE rules and U.S. laws,” he added.

The mission is a part of by OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or ODIHR, a Poland-based division of the group that has monitored elections in the U.S. since 2002, and led by Tana de Zulueta, a former member of the Italian Parliament, the group said earlier this week.

Thirteen international experts will be stationed in Washington, D.C., and 36 long-term observers from 16 participating states will be deployed throughout the country in teams of two, OSCE said Wednesday.

Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election by deploying state-sponsored computer hackers, propagandists and professional internet trolls, and Moscow similarly stands to meddle in next month’s midterms, U.S. officials said previously.

Indeed, several alleged Russian military officers criminally charged earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with interfering in the 2016 race were accused of new hacking crimes Thursday related to an international cyber-espionage spree that was active as recently as May 2018.

Russia has repeatedly denied hacking U.S. victims or interfering in the 2016 race.

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