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Ukraine bans Russians from monitoring elections

AFP  |  Kiev 

Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday voted to ban Russians from monitoring a forthcoming presidential election, as tensions between the neighbours flare before the poll.

Kiev, fighting a Moscow-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine, has said it suspects of planning to interfere in the election.

Lawmakers also voted to allocate around USD350 million to the to counter the perceived threat.

Thursday's measure would block Russian nationals from taking part in international election-monitoring missions, and would also apply to parliamentary and local votes.

The proposal has been condemned by and Kiev's Western allies alike.

Kurt Volker, the US in Ukraine, said Russians should take part in monitoring as long as they were overseen by international organisations.

If they do not take part, this allows "people to question election," Volker wrote on ahead of the vote.

"No games. needs to have confidence in its own democratic institutions," he said.

The and Co-operation in (OSCE) is preparing an extensive mission for the March 31 poll.

Russian senators told agencies that might not recognise the results of the Ukrainian election if Russian observers are not allowed to monitor them.

Russia's called the ban "a gross violation of Ukraine's commitments and international legal norms," in comments carried by the RIA agency.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a who plays the Ukrainian in a TV series, is currently favourite to take on the real-life role, according to polls.

Zelensky is ahead of former and incumbent Petro Poroshenko, as many voters turn their backs on the political class.

But there are a record number of candidates and the race remains unpredictable.

Ties between and dramatically deteriorated after a pro-Western government came to power following a 2014 revolt against a pro-Kremlin leader.

That year Moscow annexed Crimea and began backing rebels in a conflict in eastern that has already claimed some 13,000 lives.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 07 2019. 21:15 IST