#Commentary
Central Election Commission (CEC) of Russian Federation during April 21, 2021, meeting. Photo by: CEC.

The new-old Central Election Commission: an authentic renewal or a superficial touch up?

On March 19, 2021, the new composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Russian Federation was revealed. Three entities take part in the nomination of members to the CEC: the State Duma, the Federation Council and the President of Russia. Each entity appoints five people. However, de facto it is the Presidential Administration that shapes the CEC.

The State Duma and the Federation Council both announced their five appointees back on February 17. The announcement of the five presidential appointees had to wait one more month. It is worth noting that this year the shortlisting of candidates was not transparent at all. The deputies did not hear the candidates, nor did they consider appointees individually. Instead, they voted in batches. Moreover, the appointment was conducted with no competition both in the Federation Council and the State Duma.

According to independent election observers, this new composition, just like the previous ones, will not fulfill the principle of the independence of the CEC from the executive authorities guaranteed by the law. It is also unlikely that the newly elected Central Election Commission would make fateful decisions, which could possibly improve the conduct of the elections in Russia.

The new commission has been 'reinforced' by bureaucrats from the Presidential Administration, the State Duma, and the Civic Chamber (a consultative civil society institution closely linked to the government). In addition, among the new members we may find several persons, whose oversight of  elections conducted in their respective regions remains highly questionable. For instance, Elmira Khaimurzina, who has played a dubious role as the Head of the election commission of Moscow region has been included in the new composition, whereas Maya Grishina, a truly experienced member and secretary, who, in particular, was responsible for the methodological segment of the CEC, was removed from the body.

As specified above, the Central Election Commission is represented by 15 people. The CEC is appointed by the upper and lower chambers of Parliament, as well as by the President himself. It stays in force for a period of five years.

In 2021, of the 15 total members, eight new members have joined the CEC:

  • Pavel Andreev (Head of the Federal state institution 'Apparatus of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation')
  • Natalia Budarina (employee of the Presidential Administration, ex-employee of the CEC and Deputy Head of the Department for Legal Support of Electoral Campaigns of the CEC, organized by United Russia party)
  • Alexander Kurdyumov (First Deputy Head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) faction within the State Duma)
  • Konstantin Mazurevsky (Chief of the Apparatus of the United Russia faction within the State Duma)
  • Lyudmila Markina (Oryol Regional Election Commission Chair)
  • Elmira Khaimurzina (Head of the Krasnogorsk District, Secretary of the local branch of United Russia party, curator of government elections in the vicinities of Moscow and former Chair of the Election Commission in Moscow region)
  • Andrey Shutov (Chair of the pro-presidential foundation Expert Institute for Social Research, dean of the Political Science Faculty at the Moscow State University)
  • Igor Borisov (member of the CEC 2007-2011, currently member of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights)

From 2017 to 2021 Pavel Andreev headed the apparatus of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. Prior to that, he had served as a diplomat and worked at the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. Andreev spent three years working as an executive director of the Fund for Support and Development of the international discussion club Valdai. Yet nothing specific can be said about his expertise in the field of elections.

Natalia Budarina worked at the Institute for Information Law Issues until 2002. In 2001, she criticized the draft of a new electoral law. From 2002 to 2006 she worked in the legal department of the CEC. She then spent nine years working in the apparatus of the United Russia party, which was later followed by six years of work at the Department of Internal Policy in the Presidential Administration. She is currently the CEC Secretary. Budarina is very knowledgeable of the electoral law, but there are great doubts that she would defend the electoral rights of Russian citizens.

Alexander Kurdyumov has been appointed by the LDPR quota to replace the resigned Sergey Sirotkin. Before entering politics, Kurdyumov served in the internal affairs bodies. Later he was the head of the security service of the academic institute. He started his political career in 1996 as an assistant to a deputy of the State Duma. He worked both as director of the Department for Informatization at the Administration of the Nizhny Novgorod region, and as Deputy Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region during the time when the Governor was a representative of the Communist party. Since 2003, with interruptions, Alexander has been a deputy of the State Duma.

Konstantin Mazurevsky has worked in the Party of Pensioners (created to draw votes away from the Communist party), in the government of the Republic of Tyva (one of the most undemocratic regions of Russia), and as an Advisor to the Prefect of one of the administrative districts of Moscow. Since 2010, his work has been greatly linked to the United Russia party, as he worked within the Department of Electoral Processes and headed the headquarters of the 'Young Guard of the United Russia'. He has ultimately served as Chief of Apparatus of the United Russia faction within the State Duma.

From 2014 to 2021 Lyudmila Markina was the Chair of the Election Commission in Oryol region. Prior to that, she had worked as a Secretary and then as a Deputy Chair of the commission. She had begun her legal career in the internal affairs bodies and later worked as a lawyer in various companies. Before joining the regional election commission, she spent two years working in the office of the Governor. The Oryol region usually stays somewhat in the middle in terms of the level of electoral falsification. The President of Russia has been appointing a representative of the Communist party as the head of the Oryol region since 2014. However, this does not prevent United Russia from dominating the elections in this area.

From 2014 to 2018 Elmira Khaimurzina worked as the Deputy Chair in the Government of Moscow region. When the CEC invited the Governor of Moscow region to include Andrei Buzin (Co-Chair of the independent election observation movement Golos) into the Moscow region election commission, it was Khaimurzina herself who persuaded the governor, in violation of the law, that Buzin was not welcome. In May 2018, Khaimurzina was appointed to the election commission of the Moscow region and was elected its Chair. It was under her leadership that the commission held elections for the position of Governor of the Moscow region, during which massive falsifications were registered. In October 2018, Khaimurzina left the commission and was appointed Head of the urban district of Krasnogorsk (the city where the majority of offices of the Moscow region's government are located). Khaimurzina graduated from the Kaliningrad Border Institute of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. From 2010 to 2012 she worked as the Head of the Regional Executive Committee of the Kaliningrad regional branch of United Russia.

Andrey Shutov is a political scientist and Doctor of historical sciences. He has worked at the Moscow state university for 20 years, heading first the Department of state policy and then the Department of History and theory of politics. He has been the Dean of the Faculty of Political Science of the Moscow State University since 2008. Shutov is the Chair of the Russian Society of Political Scientists (since 2013) and of the Board of Directors of the Expert Institute for Social Research (since 2017). The latter is considered the think tank of the internal political block of the Presidential Administration. In 2018, his faculty was commissioned to develop a draft of the Code on Elections and Referenda. This work was presided over by Shutov himself. However, the draft turned out to be quite poor, as the most radical proposals (both positive and negative, according to independent observers) were not taken into consideration, thus, becoming mere addenda to the document. The project is practically unremembered now.

Igor Borisov is a founder of the Russian Public Institute for Electoral Law, as well as its director. He holds a Ph.D. in law and is quite an expert in the field of electoral law. He served as an officer of the armed forces. However, for at least 15 years Borisov has been working exclusively in the interests of the Russian authorities. He repeatedly participated in various OSCE missions and spoke at OSCE events, criticizing OSCE leadership and accusing it of double standards. Borisov also constantly criticizes Golos and its leaders. From 2007 to 2011 he served as a member of the CEC. Being part of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, Borisov tried to block the adoption of decisions related to safeguarding the electoral rights of citizens. Back then he also headed a monitoring group, which would register minor violations during the elections, without, however, noticing the major ones. In 2018, Borisov entered the Scientific and Expert Council under the CEC and tried to block its work as well.

The younger persons not included in the new composition of the CEC, are Maya Grishina and Alexander Kinev. Maya Grishina started to work at the CEC in 1993. She was employed by the legal department of the commission to be later promoted to the head of the department. In 2007 she became a member of the CEC and in 2016 its Secretary. She was de facto the author of most of the electoral laws. She is the most literate person in terms of electoral legislation and its process. Notwithstanding this, she did not seek to protect the electoral rights of citizens, although she did try to hinder openly illegal decisions.

Alexander Kinev was to represent Yabloko party in the CEC, although he had de facto been appointed by the President (even though he was indeed a member of Yabloko). Once in the CEC, he was responsible, in particular, for the interaction with election observation organizations and at first was willing to cooperate. With time, however, his willingness ceased.

Seven members of the previous CEC composition have been reappointed. Among them are:

  • Nikolay Bulaev (he was the first Deputy Head of United Russia faction in the State Duma until 2016) - for the 2nd term;
  • Yevgeny Kolyushin (Communist party) - for the 7th term;
  • Boris Ebzeev - for the 3rd term;
  • Anton Lopatin (represents the group of the State Duma deputies, in other words - United Russia) - for the 3rd term;
  • Nikolay Levichev (Just Russia party) - for the 2nd term;
  • Yevgeny Shevchenko (was a representative of Patriots of Russia party within the CEC until 2016) - for the 2nd term;
  • Ella Pamfilova - for the 2nd term.

Nikolay Bulaev has remained the Deputy Chair of the CEC. Prior to his appointment to the CEC in 2016, he had been Deputy Head of the Ryazan region, deputy of the State Duma, Head of the Federal Agency for Education and member of the Federation Council. Having become a member of the CEC, he suspended his membership in United Russia, yet has essentially remained a representative of the 'party in power', whose interests Bulaev lobbies quite efficiently. He is very competent in matters of elections. In the former composition of the CEC, he actually managed such important areas as equipping polling stations with video surveillance cameras and de facto introduced the 'mobile voter' system. Yet he was also the one to try to limit the degree of transparency of these two systems. At times it might have seemed that his influence on the adoption of the most important decisions by the CEC was greater than that of the CEC chairs themselves.

Yevgeny Kolyushin is a Doctor of Law and a true veteran of the Central Election Commission. He has been a member of the CEC since 1995, representing the Communist party of the Russian Federation. As per his position, Kolyushin is often the only one to oppose the rest of the CEC members, to criticize the proposed decisions and the elections themselves. However, recently his criticism has become quite frail.

Boris Ebzeev is also a Doctor of Law and is considered a major specialist in constitutional law specifically. From 1991 to 2008 he was a judge at the Constitutional court of the Russian Federation. He resigned in order to be appointed head of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. Ebzeev spent three years as the head of the republic and then resigned. During his administration, the elections in the region were far from democratic. He was on top of the list of parliamentary representatives of United Russia without actually being a member of this party. After his resignation in 2011, he was included in the CEC. He will be remembered for his long speeches 'about nothing'. In his scientific publications, he sometimes defends electoral rights, but in practice often ignores them completely.

Anton Lopatin has been a member of the CEC since 2011. All of his previous activities were associated with United Russia and with one of its predecessors, namely Fatherland party. As a member of the CEC, he openly defends the interests of the state authorities and sometimes conflicts with independent election observation organizations.

Yevgeny Shevchenko was appointed to the CEC in 2016. Prior to that, he had been a member of the CEC with a consultative vote assigned by the Patriots of Russia party (which has recently merged with Just Russia). He worked quite actively at the CEC and operated in the regions of conflict. However, recently Shevchenko has clearly indulged violations of electoral rights.

Nikolay Levichev is going to represent Just Russia in the CEC for the 2nd term. He used to be one of the leaders of this party, the leader of its faction in the State Duma and the Deputy Chair of the State Duma. Levichev was one of the five deputies who submitted to the State Duma the draft of the Electoral Code of the Russian Federation, developed by independent election observers and experts from Golos. As a member of the CEC, he has been loyal to the election observation organizations, but inconsistent in defending the electoral rights of citizens.

The CEC members re-elected Ella Pamfilova as their Chair. Pamfilova headed the CEC in 2016, having extensive experience in human rights and interaction with observer organizations. From 2002 to 2010 she headed the Commission and later the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. From 2014 to 2016 she was the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation. Pamfilova participated in the activities of Golos and in 2007 created a public pool called 'The right to choose'. In her new position, she was initially determined to improve the condition of the Russian elections and actively interacted with various public bodies, including observer organizations. At the end of 2016, she created the Expert and Consulting Group, headed by the Co-Chair of Golos movement Andrei Buzin.

However, it gradually became clear that all of her positive endeavours were failing. She was not able to include representatives of independent observer organizations in the regional election commissions. She could not achieve democratization of the electoral legislation and did not manage to prevent the withdrawal of a large number of opposition candidates from the elections to the Moscow City Duma in 2019. The level of falsification was reduced, but not by much.

As a result, in 2018-2019, Pamfilova's relations with election observation organizations deteriorated. In 2020 she abolished the Expert and Consulting Group and the Scientific and Expert Council at the CEC, which had existed since the end of 2018 and was partially composed of democratically-minded experts (1/3 of members). During the 2020 all-Russian vote on amendments to the Constitution, the independence of the CEC was reduced to zero, and the level of violations of citizens' rights and direct falsification skyrocketed.

Summing up Pamfilova's input as head of the CEC, journalists at Holod magazine wrote:

"The woman who once claimed that she would never 'agree to participate in an imitation of either political struggle or elections' because it was 'beneath her dignity,' [now] advises the journalists to look for election irregularities in the US, rather than in Russia. She is the one to support multiple-day voting outside the polling stations and believes that in Russia all the necessary democratic voting procedures are observed."

According to Grigory Melkonyants, Co-Chair of Golos movement, this new composition of the CEC showcases a lack of independence due to its complete merger with the executive authority and this trend has reached its peak since the foundation of the commission.

Andrei Buzin, author of the book 'A view of elections in Russia: Inside, Outside, Sideways' and Golos Co-Chair, believes that although the new composition of the CEC does not inspire hope for improvement in the conduct of elections (unlike five years ago), this CEC would have even less influence than the previous one.

Voting. By Photobank Moscow-Live
#Report

This is a preliminary statement on findings of observation on the main voting day, September 19, 2021, by the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos".' Golos ran long-term and short-term observation of all stages of the campaign. In the course of the elections, the united call center's hotline received 5,943 calls. The 'Map of Violations' received 4,973 reports of alleged violations by noon 20 September, Moscow time, including 3,787 on the voting days.

Voting. Image by Photobank Moscow-Live. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Voting. Image by Photobank Moscow-Live
#Report

This is a brief overview of election monitoring findings on the Second Voting Day, September 18, 2021 by citizen observers of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"'.

Duma elections. by George Shuklin, CC BY-SA 2.5
#Report

This is a brief overview of election monitoring findings on the First Voting Day by citizen observers of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"'.

Campaigning in Samara. 2011 elections. Image by Golos
#Report

The September 19, 2021 elections are marked by growing pressure on media and individual journalists, attempts at blocking information about "Smart Voting", and massive coercion of voters to vote and register for e-voting and mobile voting. In parallel, social media has been growing in importance for years as a space of more freedom and an alternative information channel. Here are the main findings of the report that focuses on the impact of these two antipodal trends.

Victor Vasnetsov. Three bogatyrs (Medieval Russian Heroes). Photo by flickr user paukrus
#Report

This report covers the monitoring of social networks from the 10th to the 11th week of the election campaign (August 23 to September 5) to the Russian State Duma, scheduled for September 19, 2021.

Russian passports. Image by MediaPhoto.Org, CC-BY-3.0
#Analysis

One aspect of the 2021 Russian parliamentary elections that differentiates them from previous federal elections is the potential participation in the voting process of dozens of thousands of people located on the Ukrainian territories outside of control of the Ukrainian authorities and not recognized as part of Russia by the Russian Federation itself.

Map of Violations Update Sept 6-12. Image by REM
#Report

This is the seventh overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' between September 6 and September 12. Since the beginning of the election campaign, 945 messages from 72 regions have been published on the Map.

Poll worker displaying an empty ballot box before the opening of a polling station in Moscow, 18.03.2018. Photo OSCA PA, CC BY-SA 2.0
#Analysis

The de facto impossibility to participate in elections for parties that must register candidates via signature collection turns their existence into a mere formality. This creates a vicious circle in which the system reproduces itself by welcoming only actors that are already 'in' and effectively barring new political players from elections.

Map of Violations Update - Aug 30-Sept 1
#Report

This is the sixth overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 30 and September 5. In total, from August 30 to September 1, 125 messages have been received by the Map.

Social media. Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay
#Report

This report covers the monitoring of social networks from the 5th to the 9th week (July 20 - August 22) of the election campaign to the Russian State Duma, scheduled for September 19, 2021.

Vladimir Putin on XVII congress of United Russia in 2017. Image by Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

Despite its dismal approval rating, Russian President Vladimir Putin's ruling political party can – and likely will – win a constitutional majority in September's legislative elections.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Sept. 1, 2021
#Report

This is the fifth overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 23 and August 29. In total, 100 messages have been received by the Map during this period.

2019 Rally for right to vote in Moscow. Image by Wikimedia Commons

The Moscow City Court has designated the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Alexey Navalny's Headquarters and the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation as 'extremist' organizations. Inter alia, it implies the prohibition to participate in elections.

The authorities have proceeded to banning pro-opposition candidates from running to the State Duma and other legislative bodies on a pretext of involvement in Navalny's projects.

State Duma elections in Sochi, Dec 4. 2011. Image by flickr/Andrew Amerikov
#Report

The elections of the State Duma of Russia of the eighth convocation are marked by considerable tightening of rules for candidate nomination and registration. In fact, the rules are much worse than in 2016, when the current membership of the parliament was elected. Run on the background of harsh restrictions on freedom of expression and information and freedom of assembly and association, the elections are accompanied by a political crackdown against the most active pro-opposition citizens.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 20, 2021
#Report

This is the fourth overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 16 and August 22. In total, 98 messages have been received by the Map in that period.

Behind a camera. Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio
#Report

Equality of rights of candidates in media coverage of their election campaign is one of the most important conditions for holding free and democratic elections. For a significant part of Russians, television remains to be one of the main sources of information. During the election campaign, the influence of television in shaping the attitude of the majority of voters towards elections and candidates is often decisive. Here is a summary of monitoring findings for the five main federal television channels during the first eight weeks of the campaign.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 20, 2021
#Report

This is the third overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 9 and August 15. Since the beginning of the election campaign, 452 messages from 62 regions have been published on the Map.

 

Screenshot of Golos' statement cover image

On August 18, the Ministry of Justice of Russia included the Movement 'Golos' as the first unregistered organisation into the registry of unregistered public associations performing the functions of a foreign agent. Here is the translation of their statement.

Russian regional elections in 2018. Image by Wikimedia Commons
#Report

According to the CEC data as of 9 July 2021, 4,370 elections and referenda are scheduled for 19 September 2021, including elections to the State Duma, nine gubernatorial elections (new heads will be elected in three more regions), 39 elections to regional parliaments, and 11 elections of representative bodies of regional centres. Here's an overview of legal regulations and peculiarities of these races.

Participants of Just Russia rally take off their uniforms 5 minutes after the start of the Yekaterinburg rally on May 1, 2019. Image by Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

PART 4: JUST RUSSIA-PATRIOTS-FOR TRUTH

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

A screenshot of a live broadcast of the voting process. Image by 'Golos' Movement.

In 2021, the Russian Central Election Commission decided to scrap open video broadcasts from the polling stations – a feature of Russian elections since 2012. The Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' has appealed to the President to help overturn this decision.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 12, 2021
#Report

This is the second overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between August 2 and August 8.

May 1st, 2009. LDPR Rally. Photo by Photobank Moscow-Live / flickr
#Analysis

PART 3: LDPR

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

The Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Duncan represented the UK at the 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg, Germany, 8-9 December 2016.
OSCE Flags. Photo by Alex Hammond / FCO. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
#Commentary

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assembly will not deploy international election observation missions to the 2021 State Duma elections due to major limitations imposed on the institutions. Announcing the decision, ODIHR Director noted that the ability "to independently determine the number of observers necessary for us to observe effectively and credibly is essential to all international observation."

Reporter's notebook. Photo by 2008 Roger H. Goun. CC BY 3.0
#Commentary

On 28 July 2021, the Central Election Commission adopted a new media accreditation procedure that restricts media access to observe and report on the electoral process. The new rules violate the freedom of media editorial policy and may significantly reduce the transparency of the election process.

Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 5, 2021
#Report

This is the first overview of reports of possible violations of electoral legislation gathered via the 'Map of Violations' by the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos' between June 22 and August 1.

May 1st Demonstration of the Communist Party, 2012. Photo by Photobank Moscow-Live / flickr
#Analysis

PART 2: CPRF

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

Ballot stuffing, elections March 18, 2018, Lyubertsy. Image - Golos
#Commentary

Less than two months before the elections, the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) decided to scrap open video broadcasts from the polling stations, which have been the feature of Russian elections since 2012.

1st of May Demonstration in Moscow. 2010. Image - Photobank Moscow-Live / flickr
#Analysis

PART 1: United Russia

According to sociologists, the same four parties represented in the parliament now: United Russia, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Just Russia will probably be elected again in 2021. How are these four parties organized? What is their support base in regions?

Ballot box for voting on Constitutional Amendments 2020. Photo - Wikimedia Commons
#Report

Since the last State Duma elections in 2016, lawmakers have introduced 19 amendments to the election law. In the year leading up to the State Duma elections in September 2021 alone, seven significant legislative amendments have been introduced, six of them in less than four months before the start of the campaign.

TV reporter, Bryansk. Photo - pxfuel
#Analysis

After almost a decade of crackdowns on big players, the landscape of critical journalism in Russia is dominated by local or smaller niche projects. But if the 2020-2021 trend of relentless attacks on media, journalists, and bloggers continues, many of these small projects are not likely to survive into the autumn. The regime makes it pretty clear that it no longer intends to tolerate any dissent.

"1941- ssshhh!" - Image by James Vaughan / flickr

The laws on "foreign agent" and "undesirable organizations" continue to hamper the work of affected organizations, stigmatize and damage their reputation, and isolate the civil society from international cooperation and support. What are these provisions and how are they being applied?

Vladimir Putin Speech at State Duma plenary session 2020-03-10. Image - Wikimedia Commons

The Russian State Duma's seventh convocation is coming to the end of its five-year term. And according to a new report from iStories and Znak.com, dozens of its deputies haven't said a word in a parliamentary session since they were elected in 2016. Others haven't put forward a single bill. Be that as it may, this hasn't stopped these lawmakers from collecting high salaries and planning to put their names on the ballot for the State Duma election coming up in September.

Kaluga. A Holiday. Image - flickr
#Analysis

During the United Russia primaries, experts detected possible falsification of the results and instances of interference in the electronic voting process. According to some analyses, 99% of votes for the first 22 candidates on the United Russia party list were falsified while the amount of falsified votes for candidates in single-mandate constituencies reached 80-95% of the votes cast.

Arrest by the police. Image - Wikimedia Commons
#Report

According to election observers, recent amendments further limiting citizens' passive suffrage constitute a "fifth wave" of depriving Russians of their right to stand for election since the collapse of the USSR. New restrictions have a particular impact on politically active citizens.

Programming, computing and information concept. Image - Peshkova, Getty Images Pro
#Report

In May, the Russian Federation has tested a new system of remote electronic voting. The Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos" observed the testing phase, took part in the voting, and shared their conclusions and recommendations in a respective report.

"I have the right to choose!" Photo - EPDE.
#Analysis

Opportunities for independent citizen election observation and civil society space in general have been shrinking steadily in Russia over the past decade. Recently, further restrictions have been adopted that limit the ability of citizens to independently monitor electoral processes.

May 1st Demonstration of the Communist Party, 2012. Image by _TMY2892/flickr
#Analysis

Over the past 14 years, the authorities have blocked 120,000 candidates from participating in elections of various levels, depriving millions of Russian citizens of the right to choose their representatives.

A demonstration in Moscow. Image - by Andrey, Pxhere.

Russia has finally outlawed Alexey Navalny's political and anti-corruption movement. Here's how the crackdown affects activists, journalists, and ordinary supporters.

Plenary meeting of the State Duma. Image - Wikimedia Commons
#Commentary

The President of Russia approved the law prohibiting those who are "involved" in the activities of an extremist organization from running in elections.

Electoral headquarters of Alexey Navalny. Photo - Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

On June 9, the Moscow City Court, based on the charges by the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, recognized the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), the Foundation for the Protection of Citizens' Rights, and the headquarters of Alexei Navalny as extremist organizations. Now, many citizens are under a threat of pressure and persecution.

Vladimir Putin at the United Russia Congress (2011-11-27). Image - Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

Between May 24 and 30, United Russia held its preliminary selection of candidates for 2021 State Duma elections. Nearly 12 million citizens participated in the party's primaries. Yet, a more careful examination shows an increasingly controlled and non-transparent process, aimed at having the public formally 'endorse' a carefully vetted list of pre-selected candidates.

Meeting of Central Election Commission Chair Ella Pamfilova with OSCE / ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. Photo - CEC
#Report

Between 2003 and 2018, OSCE/ODIHR published 139 recommendations on how to improve the conduct of elections in Russia. In the run-up to the State Duma elections in 2021, Russia has fully implemented just over 10% of them. Some have been tackled more promptly than others.

Man using computers. Photo by: Lisa Fotios from Pexels
#Analysis

Ahead of the State Duma election on September 19, 2021, Russia just tested its remote electronic voting system. While the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (CEC) is preparing the report about the results of the test, election monitors say Russia's electronic voting system is a black box.

Alexei Navalny. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
#Analysis

The Russian authorities are expected to orchestrate a result in the upcoming State Duma elections that will give United Russia a clear majority of seats. This does not mean, however, that the manipulation of the electoral process by the authorities is complete. In a limited number of competitive districts, true opposition candidates including candidates who are associated with Aleksei Navalny have a real chance of winning if they are allowed to run. In recent weeks, steps have been taken to block these 'undesirable' candidates from participating.

Central Election Commission (CEC) of Russian Federation during April 21, 2021, meeting. Photo by: CEC.
#Commentary

On March 19, 2021, the new composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Russian Federation was revealed. Out of 15 members, eight new people joined the CEC. In particular, the new Commission has been 'reinforced' by bureaucrats from the Presidential Administration, the State Duma, and the Civic Chamber (a consultative civil society institution closely linked to the government).