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Ukraine MPs Bar Russians From Observing Elections

Ukrainian lawmakers vote during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 7, 2019.

Ukraine's parliament has barred Russian citizens from serving as election monitors during an upcoming presidential election.

The Supreme Rada voted to exclude Russians from international observers' missions that will be monitoring the voting in Ukraine next month.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe submitted a list of candidates for the Ukrainian monitoring missing and it included two Russians. The organization's observers are considered one of the most credible voices on elections in the region.

The U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, tweeted before the vote that Ukraine “needs” OSCE observers, even if some are Russian citizens, “to prove it adheres to democratic standards.”

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been tense since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.