- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A reluctance to let Russian diplomats monitor Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election has prompted Moscow to respond in kind, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry notified the U.S. Embassy in Moscow recently that American officials aren’t welcomed to watch in person any upcoming Russian elections, Mr. Ryabkov told reporters this week.

“We have drawn our conclusions from this and officially warned the U.S. embassy in Moscow a few days ago that the U.S. should not count on the presence of U.S. diplomats at elections that will be carried out in Russia,” Mr. Ryabkov said to RIA Novosti, according to an English translation provided by state-owned media.

“At work here is the principle of reciprocity without which there can be no normal diplomatic relations,” he added, according to a translation from Meduza, a Russian news site.

The warning from Moscow is a direct response to U.S. election officials’ recent decision not to let Russian diplomats monitor polling places during the Nov. 8 election, the foreign minister said.

Russia’s consul general in Houston, Alexander K. Zakharov, had asked election officials in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana for permission to deploy representatives “for a short period of time, when convenient,” with the “goal of studying the U.S. experience in organization of voting process,” but all three states refused the requests.

The universal rejection wasn’t received well by Russia, and its embassy in Washington initially said it was “baffled” and “disappointed” by the states’ decisions. Several weeks later, the foreign ministry has now announced a tit-for-tat response.

“We do not expect to see representatives of United States diplomatic missions at any upcoming elections in Russia, regardless of their level and nature,” a senior Russian diplomat told RIA Novosti on condition of anonymity. “We believe that their presence in any capacity at sites in Russia, unless it is associated with international observation missions, would be undesirable,” the source said.


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