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Statement: In Support of Election Observers and Representatives of the Media

Source: HRO.org (info), 02/03/12

· Electoral rights

On the eve of the presidential elections, on Sunday 4 March, the President’s advisory Council on Civil Society and Human Rights makes the following appeal to all local, regional and other electoral commissions; to the staff of law-enforcement agencies; and to the official representatives of candidates and members of their campaign teams.

Our common task during the forthcoming elections is to do all we can to ensure that the manner in which votes are cast and the ballot is counted is irreproachable. In this task the main resource at the disposal of civil society are the election observers and representatives of the media.

The Council on Civil Society and Human Rights calls on all to do their utmost to facilitate the work of election observers and journalists, and to respect their rights which are enshrined in law. Electoral commissions, the police, investigative bodies and the prosecutor’s office should respond promptly and punctiliously to reports from observers and representatives of the media about violations of the electoral rights of citizens.

The country’s law-enforcement agencies should follow up each report registered on the hotlines of organisations monitoring the elections (the GOLOS association, Citizen Observer, the Corps of Observers, the Voters’ League and others). In accordance with the law, they must press charges against those responsible for these violations. They should react in exactly the same way to attempted DDoS (Dedicated Denial of Service) attacks on these hotlines or attempts to block their work in any other fashion. The most effective way to counter such attempts at obstruction is for observers to combine their efforts and share information.

For its part the Council on Civil Society and Human Rights intends to aid and support all organisations coordinating the work of election observers. To that end it requests them to inform the Council of problems and conflicts as they arise when they are carrying out their activities as observers during the vote and the counting of the ballot.

It is appropriate, the Council believes, to reiterate here the rights of observers as laid down in the current legislation.

Observers have the right by law

- to examine lists of voters, the register of forms issued for absentee voters, the forms for absentee voters held by the electoral commission, and the register of requests for permission to vote outside the polling station;

- to be inside the polling station of the relevant district on voting day;

- to observe the issuing of ballot-papers to voters;

- to count the number of citizens entered into the roll of electors, the number of ballot-papers handed to voters, and the number of used ballot-papers;

- to observe the counting of the vote in the polling station at a distance and in such conditions that permit them to observe the entries that voters have made on the ballot-papers;

- to examine any complete or incomplete ballot-paper during the counting of the vote;

- to observe the compilation by the electoral commission of the report on the results of voting and of other documents;

- to examine the conclusions of the said commission concerning the results of the ballot and to examine documents attached thereto;

- to obtain from the said commission certified copies of the above-mentioned conclusions (see point 12 of article 23 of the Federal Law “On the election of the President of the Russian Federation” and point 9, article 30 of the Federal Law “On the fundamental guarantees of electoral rights, and rights to participate in a referendum, of citizens of the Russian Federation”);

- to photograph and film the voting process and the counting of the vote;

- to move freely about the polling station, in so far as this neither infringes the secrecy of the ballot nor the work of the electoral commission.

Unlawful acts directed against observers and representatives of the media will lead to administrative and criminal charges.

This resolution was adopted by consensus.

Mikhail Fedotov

Presidential Aide and Chairman of the Council on Civil Society and Human Rights


Note

The RF President’s advisory Council on Civil Society and Human Rights is the successor to the presidential Council on Human Rights, founded in November 1993. Among its current 40 members are Ludmila Alexeyeva, Alexei Simonov and Mara Polyakova.

The Council should be distinguished from the Public Chamber (Obshchestvennaya palata), established by Vladimir Putin in April 2005, which has a membership of 42 individuals.