Russia says OSCE lacked 'official invitations' to enter Crimea

7th March 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia said Friday that Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe observers who were barred from Crimea had failed to obtain "official invitations" from the Crimean authorities.

The OSCE tried to enter Crimea "bypassing the principle of consensus that is fundamental to the OSCE, without considering the opinions and recommendations of the Russian side, without waiting for official invitations from the Crimean side," the Russian foreign ministry said.

The OSCE reported Friday that armed men halted its convoy of military and civilian observers at a checkpoint as they tried to enter Crimea.

One observer told AFP on Friday on condition of anonymity that they were acting under an OSCE mandate "as guests of the Ukrainian government."

On Thursday, gunmen had also prevented the observers from 21 of the organisation's 57 member countries from crossing into the peninsula.

The Russian ministry accused the OSCE of acting "in the worst traditions of double standards on the situation in Ukraine" and turning a blind eye to "violent acts by extremist forces."

Moscow called for the OSCE to condemn "violent acts" by the new authorities in Kiev and to declare their takeover of power as illegal.

The OSCE's unarmed observer mission is aimed at defusing tensions in Crimea, which was taken over by Russian forces over the weekend.

© 2014 AFP

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