Russia promises to send team to observe Cambodia’s elections next year

Russia has promised to send a team of observers to Cambodia for the national elections next year and will discuss with the Cambodian government over the latter’s request for debt forgiveness, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Tuesday (Nov 14).

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reportedly told Prime Minister Hun Sen during their meeting on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Manila on Sunday that Russian would provide support for Cambodia’s national elections and would send a team of observers to monitor the elections.

Hang Puthea, spokesman of the National Election Committee, confirmed Russia’s promise to help in monitoring the elections next year, but both sides are yet to meet to discuss the issue in details.

The pledge from Russia came days before the high court of Cambodia will make a decision this week whether to dissolve the opposition CNRP over the treason charge against its leader, KemSokha.

Deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, Phil Robertson, said the Cambodian government is “looking left and right to find someone who will say they are right. And Russia are going to be basically rubber-stamping whatever the Cambodian government wants.”

Alexander Korolev, a research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore said the growing gap between the US and Cambodia opened the door for Russia.

But Korolev said that it was unlikely that Russian would write off the $1.5 billion of Soviet-era debt accumulated during the 80s for Cambodia as requested by Hun Sen.

He, however, added it is possible that the debt will be restructured.