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Statement by the Human Rights Council of Russia in support of the Golos Association for the Defence of Voters’ Rights

Source: (info), 02/12/11

· Electoral rights  · Monitoring of violations   · Human rights defenders   · Moscow city & Moscow region

Recent days have seen an open campaign of harassment of the Golos Association for the Defence of Voters’ Rights. The culmination of this campaign has been a complaint made by deputies from United Russia, LDPR and A Just Russia to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. This was preceded by publications and statements with scurrilous pronouncements about a “fifth column,” issued by representatives both of the ruling party and of that part of the opposition that has accepted the rules of the Kremlin’s game.

On 27 November at the United Russia congress in Luzhniki Vladimir Putin, presidential candidate and leader of the ruling party, openly said that the independent civic organizations running a system of monitoring the rights of voters and candidates were ‘Judases’.

What is happening shows not only the thorough dishonesty of the organizers and executors of this unworthy campaign, but also the total fear of the authorities in the face of civic oversight of the rights of voters and candidates.

The attacks on Golos and the efforts to blacken and slander the participants in work of independent election monitoring - above all the Citizen Observer campaign - are yet further demonstration of the fact that the current State Duma elections, and the contest for the office of head of state that has just begun, are neither fair, nor free nor just.

These attacks are part of a series of other very crude violations of electoral legislation, for example the obvious discrimination in election advertising, the speeches of officials of all levels – from the heads of municipalities and districts, to mayors, governors, and even the president, with various direct and veiled threats against opponents of the ruling party, the promise to “thank” voters for the required result, and even demands to employers to force their subordinates “to vote the right way”.

We believe it necessary once again to repeat the assessment of the situation we issued at the beginning of September this year: “The state of the institution of elections in Russia at present taken as a whole bears no relation, neither to Russia’s international obligations, nor even to the requirements of domestic legislation.”

We express our solidarity with the Golos Association for the Defence of Voters’ Rights, which is doing truly invaluable work in conducting civic oversight of the observance of electoral rights.

We welcome those numerous volunteers who have taken part in the campaign of public oversight of the elections and we believe that the evidence gathered by them is extraordinarily important for the legal evaluation of electoral processes in our country.

In the name of the Human Rights Council of Russia:

Ludmila Alekseeva,
Chair of Moscow Helsinki Group, Foundation for Defence of Prisoners’ Rights

Valery Borshchev,
Member of Moscow Helsinki Group, Social Partnership Foundation

Yury Vdovin,
Citizens’ Watch, member of the Human Rights Council of St. Petersburg

Svetlana Gannushkina,
Civic Assistance Committee, member of the board, Memorial Human Rights Centre

Sergei Kovalev,
Public Commission for the Heritage of A.D.Sakharov

Oleg Orlov,
Chair of the board, Memorial Human Rights Centre

Lev Ponomarev,
Movement For Human Rights