Why Russian MPs work as international election observers abroad

Irek Zinnurov's column about work in Moldova, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and about trainings to Tajikistan

Why Russian MPs work as international election observers abroad
Photo: sputnik.md

Irek Zinnurov, State Duma Deputy from Tatarstan, Olympic Water Polo Champion, in his column for Realnoe Vremya says about such an unusual aspect of the deputy's work as participation in elections as an international observer.

Specifics of the Committee's work

For the fourth year, I have worked in the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots. The subject matter of the Committee's work brings certain features to the essence of our work. For example, we go to elections in the CIS countries as international observers.

In 2019, I worked in the parliamentary elections in Moldova, participated in the work of observers in the elections to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan. This year, together with a delegation of CIS observers, we visited the early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, and very soon — on March 1 — we will go to observe the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Tajikistan.

Why Russian deputies work in “foreign” elections

Free elections are an integral part of a modern legal democratic state. They must be conducted in accordance with international law, and the work of the institute of international observers contributes greatly to this.

First, as observers, we must study the electoral legislation of the country in which we are going to work. During elections, we visit polling stations (and our duties include working not only in the capital but also in remote areas of the country). At the polling stations, we have the opportunity to communicate with local residents — to hear and see the country not only on the pages of official sources but also to get to know it live through its people. For example, when we were working in Uzbekistan, we talked to a 95–year-old local woman named Buvizhon at one of the polling stations. Surprisingly, she herself, even among the first, came to the polling station.

Photo: cis.minsk.by
Free elections are an integral part of a modern legal democratic state. They must be conducted in accordance with international law, and the work of the institute of international observers contributes greatly to this

The organization of international observation is one of the key points in the organisation of elections. Legitimate assessment and independent opinion of international observers are serious criteria for the openness and transparency of the electoral process in the country. Working as an international observer is not only a great honour for me but also a great responsibility.

Azerbaijan: course for modernization

Early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan have been held recently. The weather was bad that day, but even so, the turnout was high. The electoral process was highly effectively organized — and this is in conditions of total lack of time for preparation! The early elections were organized in just two months.

I visited several sites and didn't notice any violations on any of them. We can safely say that the entire election process was transparent from beginning to end. We met with the head of the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission and discussed various issues related to the organization of the election process — for example, their differences in Russia and Azerbaijan.

It is interesting that many young and independent candidates participated in the parliamentary elections to the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan. This indicates that the country's parliamentary system is taking a course towards modernization.

Photo: azertag.az
We believe that the innovation vector chosen by Azerbaijan will have a serious and positive impact on international relations

The work of the international observer mission ended with a meeting with Ilham Aliyev, the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We gave our feedback on how we assess the organization of early elections. Along the way, we discussed how Russian-Azerbaijani relations would develop further.

The democratization of Azerbaijan and early elections are a very important milestone in the history of the country's development. We believe that the innovation vector chosen by Azerbaijan will have a serious and positive impact on international relations. After all, the modern world community is interested in democratic changes in the country and in the legitimacy of the political process.

By Irek Zinnurov
Tatarstan