Washington, DC – Lorne Craner, President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), testified today before the United States Helsinki Commission, chaired by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). Craner’s testimony highlighted the work the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) has played in advancing democratic ideals in the former Soviet Union.

In his testimony, Craner praised the work of the OSCE/ODIHR.  “By contributing to the institution of free and fair elections in the former Soviet space, the OSCE/ODIHR has helped many of these countries throw off the yoke of totalitarianism and embrace a democratic future… the OSCE/ODIHR has helped millions of people to choose their own leaders and impact the future of their country.”

Craner warned against Russian attempts to “reform” the work of the ODIHR by adopting changes that would require an OSCE Permanent Council vote before preliminary reports of observation missions could be issued.  Craner testified these reforms “could have given any country the opportunity to ‘veto’ election findings,” and “would lead to exactly that kind of politicization of OSCE election observation that Russia claims it is trying to prevent.” 

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