A leading international delegation now in the U.S. to monitor the midterm elections includes two Russian members of parliament, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Artyom Turov is with President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party, and Alexei Korniyenko is a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
They are among more than 100 official Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers deployed across the United States to monitor election day issues, including voter ID disputes.
The mission includes additional Russians, but Mr. Turov and Mr. Korniyenko, who are expected to visit roughly 10 polling stations, are said to be the only members of parliament in the group.
“We will be working in Washington and the bordering state of Maryland,” Mr. Korniyenko told TASS.
OSCE election monitoring teams are routine and respected around the world.
But this year’s U.S. mission has an increased urgency as it unfolds against continued concerns that Russia could somehow try and influence the midterm results — given the evidence U.S. officials have collected documenting a major Kremlin campaign to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
“Our job as international observers is to bring a critical but fair eye to this process,” OSCE delegation heads George Tsereteli and Isabel Santos wrote in an op-ed published by The Hill. “In one sense, the mission is routine for us, having observed elections in the U.S. a half-dozen times since 2004.”
“But we are also keenly aware,” they added, “that this election is taking place in a context of deep polarization, concerns over election security, and an ongoing investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential contest.”
The Kremlin has firmly denied meddling in 2016 despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the issue, charging 26 Russian nationals and three Russian companies with election interference and additional related crimes.