Foreign citizens, including 13 Italians, whom the Russian government presents as international observers on the referendums branded by Kiev as a “farce” are carrying out “political activism” and violating the basic rules of election observation. This is claimed by experts in the field cited by CNN. “What they do is a political activity disguised as election observation,” said Anton Shekhovtso, an expert at the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), a German NGO supported by the European Union. According to the EPDE, which promotes best practices for conducting and monitoring elections, an observer should never extrapolate an overall opinion on the vote from individual experience. “Standing here, I can see for myself that people vote voluntarily. “, a” German observer “recently told TASS, the executive of the German energy company Energie Waldeck-Frankenberg, Stefan Schnaller. “Observers cannot properly evaluate elections when they are not members of a long-term observation mission and when they make public statements based only on their own limited observation,” EPDE said. Schaller was fired “with immediate effect” yesterday, two days after the publication of the Tass article. In 2005, the United Nations approved a set of principles for international election observation. Among these is that an observer mission must respect the “sovereignty of the country holding the elections” and that it should be the host country – in this case, Ukraine – that invites the observers. “None of these principles were respected in this case”, notes CNN. “Any referendum or election on the territory of Ukraine can be announced and conducted by the authorities of that country only in accordance with national legislation and international standards in order to have legal force,” said Katya Andrusz, spokesperson for the Office for democratic institutions and human rights at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Russia is a member. Andrusz argued that “there is no legal basis for these referendums.” Another example cited by the American broadcaster is Gianfranco Vestuto, cited by Tass as an “Italian observer”. Vestuto called the Donbass trial a “voluntary and free reunification with Russia”.