The Russian embassy in Washington claimed that U.S. officials warned them that their presence at polling stations during the Nov. 8 presidential elections could be counted as a criminal act. This follows reports that Russia was denied permission by Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas to observe the upcoming elections.
“We have not submitted any requests to the Department of State regarding the election observation. As a matter of respectfully conducting our diplomatic duties we sent the information on our intentions to the Department of State … In response we received a note suggesting that all the Russian missions in the U.S. wishing to participate in the ‘observation’ should refer to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights mission,” the embassy said in a statement.
The embassy noted that it applied to local electoral commissions indicating interest in “getting acquainted” the U.S. elections procedures and not for “observing.”
“We received mostly negative responses, including threats that our interest and presence at polling stations could be seen as a criminal act,” the statement read.
The state department had earlier said that Russia is welcome to observe the elections even though the request seemed like a “PR stunt.” Moscow has been accused of trying to underestimate the elections through cyber attack against U.S. officials and organizations.
“We told the Russian government that they were welcome to observe our elections,” John Kirby, the state department spokesman, said Friday. “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.”