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

Voting Day II: A Brief Overview

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

Main trends of the voting day

1. The second day of voting revealed problems related to the safety of ballots and electoral documents overnight. Election commissions did not always seal safes and voting areas. Some safes had structural defects that allowed penetration even when they were formally closed and sealed. Also, several safes were placed in areas inaccessible to video observation. In some areas unauthorized persons entered at night. In the morning it turned out that some of the safety bags were damaged. The commissions also did not provide the observers with the necessary copies of the acts.

2. Ballot stuffing, multiple voting/voting for other persons, and bribery of voters was detected at polling stations. As a rule, this happened in regions where such violations have already become traditional. However, it is alarming that these same issues were revealed in the parts of Russia that, until recently, were considered 'healthy' in terms of electoral procedures.

3. In many regions, observers, commission members, and candidates faced very tough resistance, often forceful. There were attempts to remove them without a court decision, taking them to police stations, and sometimes bribe them. But most alarming is the fact of beatings or threats by organized informal groups consisting of athletic-looking young people who were largely condoned by the police. Issues with the implementation of the rights of observers and commission members, as well as their security, have reached the most alarming level in all the recent years: the current situation is similar to what happened 7 or 8 years ago.

Improper storage of ballots and electoral documents

On the first day of voting, (Friday, September 17, working day) the main problem across the country was queues at polling stations (which clearly demonstrated the level of administrative staff coercion), whereas Saturday, September 18, was marked by a huge number of messages about violations of the rules for ballots storing, which were left at the PECs for the night. These rules are especially important in conditions of a multiple-day voting, since the real opportunity to control the safety of ballots at night exists only in the case of strict adherence to the sealing procedures.

These issues actually started on the night of Friday, September 17. Reports came from different parts of the country that the design of safes used for storing ballots could not provide for safety: the bottom of the deposits easily came off or it was possible to open the deposit from the back (sometimes there was simply no back wall). Such messages came from Kalmykia, Volgograd and Moscow oblasts.

Noteworthy is that problems arose not only with safes, but also with ordinary ballot boxes, which did not reliably protect ballots. In Saratov, a ballot box filled with ballots simply disintegrated.

In the Stavropolskiy Krai, the voter Olga Bezuglova came to vote and found out that the lids of the stationary ballot boxes were not fixed. As a result, the seals were not fastened at all. Two (out of two) stationary boxes were not properly sealed: if needed, their lids could be slightly opened. The chairperson replied in a very rude way to Olga's comments. Moreover, Olga was attacked after she left the polling station.

In the village of Verkhnyaya Salda, Sverdlovsk Oblast (PEC No. 286), a lid was not screwed to the stationary ballot box. In Ryazan, a mobile team returned from home voting visits with an open box.

In some cases, the commissions did not use safes to store ballots and documents. At PEC No. 2822 in Tatarstan, the electoral documents were kept overnight in a closet with a broken door that wouldn't close. With reference to observers, the media reported that 240 people had actually voted on the site, However, the acts showed 617 voters. Moreover, on September 17, the site turned off the lights.

At PEC No. 1014 in Moscow, upon completion of the commission's work, the voting registers were left outside the safe, in an adjacent room. Under the pretext of cleaning, a member of the commission with an advisory vote was forced to leave, whereas the commission itself remained in the room for about 15 minutes under no supervision. Then the chairman of the commission left. Only later, following the demands of a member of the commission, the chairman came back and put the documents in the sealed safe. However, not a single certified copy of an act was issued to the observers and members of the commission with an advisory vote. We should note that complaints about the refusal to issue acts on Friday evening were very common.

In a number of cases, documents and ballots were stored at night in unsealed premises or even taken out of the polling stations. For example, in St. Petersburg, the chairman of PEC No. 306, Polina Erokhina, refused to seal the voting room for the night. The same problem was revealed at PECs No. 562 and No. 563 in St. Petersburg: after the end of voting, unused ballots and voter registers were taken out of the stations by the chairmen of those PECs to later be taken away in an unknown direction. The same happened at PEC No. 170 in the village of Khorlovo, which belong to the Voskresensk area of Moscow, and Lobnya. Both the safe with ballots and the Optical scan voting system were located in a single room. However, a side room was sealed. Access to the room was limited to observers throughout the whole day. The premises of Otradnoye, Samara Oblast, were not sealed at all.

In many cases the documentation (both during the voting and at night) was stored in rooms without video observation. Sometimes safe-deposits were not in the field of video coverage. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) reported that in the Kirov Oblast, video cameras had been turned off at several stations at night. This happened in Orichevsky district – PEC No. 809, in Omutninsky district – PECs No. 748, 749, 755, 756, in Yaransky district – PECs No. 1156,  No. 1157. At 25 polling stations, a suspicious hassle was detected at night. In 15 cases the appearance of unidentified people was detected, namely this happened at PECs No. 157,  No. 159,  No. 166,  No. 168,  No. 259,  No. 270,  No. 271,  No. 282,  No. 302,  No. 343,  No. 350,  No. 354,  No. 376,  No. 380,   No. 386,  No. 390,  No. 391,  No. 425,  No. 453,  No. 510,  No. 548,  No. 823,  No. 874,  No. 884,  No. 1194.

In Mytishchi, Moscow area, at PEC No. 1684, the safes were located outside the camera surveillance zone. The same problem was detected in Vorkuta, the Republic of Komi, in Moscow, Istra and St. Petersburg.

Observers and commission members also report that seals and safety-bags were found damaged the morning after. For example, in Kemerovo, a member of the commission with the right of an advisory vote found one damaged bag among the safety-bags of the station No. 301. The bag was opened along the sealed line and then covered with tape.

At PEC No. 185 of the Orenburg Oblast, all the safety-bags were opened. In Tambov, at PEC No. 761, doubts arose about the integrity of the safety-bag No. 79869290, as damaged and clearly torn parts were visible. In Ufa, one safety-bag was incorrectly sealed from the very beginning: a red indicator tape had been ripped off. The indicator tape allows to determine, if the bag was opened.

In Moscow, a candidate to the State Duma Nikolai Volkov filed a claim to the prosecutor's office with a request to conduct an investigation related to the fact of illegal entry into the voting premises. On September 18, at 7:20 AM, Nikita Budkin, a member of commission No. 2385 with the right of an advisory vote, discovered that the seal, placed the day before, was torn in half. The police was called to register the occurrence. A similar issue was found at the Moscow PEC No. 885.

In the Moscow district of Vykhino-Zhulebino, at the station No. 295, during the night from 17 to 18 September, unknown people entered the voting area. The morning after observers found that the voters list was stitched differently than it had been done the night before. A security guard told the observers about the night visit of the unknown people. The guard tried to keep them out of the area. He complained that after a call from his leadership, he was forced to open the doors of the polling station. Moreover, the day before, the observers noted that members of the commission were entering data in the voters register instead of the person assigned. On September 17, the case was closed with no outcome and the registers were removed to the safe. However, the morning after, it turned out that the numbers of the buckles had changed.

The Yabloko party stated that at PEC No. 133 in St. Petersburg, a member of the commission with the decisive vote had cut the seals, performed an unknown action with the Optical scan voting system and then sealed them again (watch a video).

Stuffing, 'carousels'1, and bribery of voters

On August 18, Golos received 49 messages from 18 regions about possible ballot stuffing, multiple voting and bribery of voters.

As a rule, such violations are difficult to implement without the assistance of the executive and law enforcement bodies. For example, on the night from Friday to Saturday the portal IvanovoNews published an unusual video and its transcript, which supposedly recorded a dialogue between the head of the city administration Mr. Shuy, and the chairwoman of one of the PECs of the city. In the above dialogue, Shuy tries to convince the chairwoman to 'get down to work' and 'complete the task', while saying 'we will turn off the cameras for you in the morning, and take out the policeman. What else do you need?'

In the Republic of Bashkortostan, at the polling station No. 170, one of the observers accidentally witnessed a telephone conversation of a member of the commission holding the right of decisive vote. On the video, dated September 17 and filmed while packing the safety-bag with ballots, one can hear how the commission member is given instructions on falsifying elections at the polling station: ‘Yes, now we have sorted it out with the lawyers. We all write in the acts the figure I gave you in the task. You don't care of what they thought and counted. No such excuses are accepted. You write the figure I gave you in the task. If they have any questions, let them complain,’ said a voice over the phone. The video was published by the coordinator of Golos in Bashkiria, Renat Fakiev.

Traces of ballot stuffing were found in St. Petersburg. For example, on the evening of September 17 (the case was not included in the previous overview) at PEC No. 1754, a pile of ballots was found in a ballot box. Also, the prevention of stuffing was reported by PEC No. 1806 of St. Petersburg. An unknown person tried to stuff 15 ballots with votes in favour of the self-nominated candidate Marina Lybaneva. Later, the citizen, who tried to do the stuffing, was detained by the police officers who arrived to the place.

The public organization ‘Observers of St. Petersburg’ reported that its members found a suspicious young man at 2 polling stations of the Central district, at PECs No. 2255 and No. 2259. In their opinion, the person could vote at least twice. Later, the young man was detained.

There are reports of possible stuffing, multiple voting or voting for other persons from regions where these issues have already become traditional, and namely from Tatarstan, Stavropolskiy Krai, Kuzbass, Moscow and Tula oblasts, as well as from Yamalo-Nenets autonomous area.

In the knowingly falsification-rich Bryansk Oblast, 9 stuffings were recorded the day before at PEC No. 475 (Kletnya village). Special attention should be paid to how the so-called regional ‘public’ headquarters under the public chamber justified such an obvious falsification. They spoke about the fact that those were allegedly home-based voting ballots and the members of the commission got ‘confused.’ The video shows a completely different picture that clearly brings us to a criminal case. Under the pressure of the evidence, the ballots in the stationary box were invalidated, but no criminal case has yet been initiated.

Problems with falsifications, already traditional for the south of the country, were discovered in the Stavropolskiy and Krasnodarskiy regions. Thus, in Zheleznovodsk of the Stavropolskiy Krai, a voter of PEC No. 420 found that someone had already voted for him. A complaint was filed. As the telegram channel ‘EM Krasnodar’ reports, in Belorechensk, Krasnodarskiy Krai, (presumably) members of PEC No. 0612 were caught ‘counting’ ballots at a bus stop. The people could not explain what they were doing. And at station No. 6071 in Krasnodar, a young man was seen throwing a stack of ballots into the ballot box and hastily leaving the PEC. A pile of 8-10 ballots was found in the ballot box.

Potential falsifications have also been reported in areas, normally considered less subject to this issue. For example, in the Ryazan Oblast, a voter discovered that someone had already voted for him. An advisory PEC member reported the violation to the police officer on duty. But the latter did nothing. In the Novosibirsk Oblast, a group of voters with passports in the same covers was noticed. They were very nervous, when discovered. Many of them left once an observer tried to approach the group. In the regional center Borskoe of the Samara Oblast, ballots, which had been hidden for stuffing, were detected in the back room. The case was submitted to the Investigative Committee in order to initiate a criminal procedure. At PEC No. 462, Ivanovo Oblast, a woman was detained for stuffing ballots. The polling station stopped working. In Krasnoyarsk, at PEC No. 381, a voter discovered that he had already voted.

In the village of Kuvashi (Zlatoust district of the Chelyabinsk Oblast), at PEC No. 129, 70 ballots from the Optical scan voting system were voided. The ballots were invalidated due to the fact that only ballots related to home-based voting had been placed the day before. Moreover, dead voters were found in the lists for the home-based voting.

Of a particular concern are reports of repeated voting in Moscow. Over the past several years, the region with the largest number of voters detected only sporadic violations of the kind. This time, a member of the Territorial Election Commission of the Dorogomilovo district, Ivan Divilkovsky, reported about a double voting of a single voter. The voter first voted at home and then came to the PEC to vote for the second time, although the fact of her primary vote had already been registered.

In the Academic district of Moscow, at PEC No. 2131, the fact of a double voting of a person who had voted both at the LEC premises and outside, was registered. The voter's signature was placed on the request for home-based voting, as well as on the voters register. In addition, on September 17, two voters voted outside the premises, although they were crossed out in the voters register due to their willingness to vote electronically. Also, in most cases, the voter registers were missing any data of voters who had voted outside the premises on September 17.

At the Moscow PEC No. 2867 in Filevsky park, the commission refused to acquaint a member of the higher commission with the register of voters who had applied to vote outside the station. Earlier, at this polling station ballots laying in layers were found in the mobile ballot box No. 2. There was a layer of ballots related to party lists and a layer of ballots related to voting for single-mandate candidates.

This year problems arise once more in the Primorskiy Krai. According to newsbox24, in Vladivostok at PEC No. 652, the candidate and their proxies recorded a significant discrepancy in the general voters turnout. According to observers, the actual number of voters was around 80 people less than the one announced by the election commission. The observers and members of the commission demanded the list of voters in order to find out how many voters were issued ballots to. The PEC chairman refused to do so. On September 18 at PEC No. 613, two voters were found guided by a lady (who probably bribed them). The police did not interfere. Bribery was also registered in Amur, Irkutsk, Moscow and Sverdlovsk oblasts.

Resistance to the work of commission members, observers and media representatives

A tense atmosphere at polling stations, caused by violations, fatigue and lack of a clear understanding of the new election rules related to the 3-day voting, could not but generate a large number of conflicts between commissions, observers and candidates. In total, on September 18, Golos received 263 messages from 37 regions about violations of the rights of commission members, observers and media representatives. Unfortunately, along with the usual attempts to limit their right to move freely around the site, take photos and videos or familiarize themselves with the documents of the commissions, there were reports of the use of brute force and attacks.

The problem of resistance to observers and members of commissions is especially meaningful in the Krasnodarskiy Krai and the Moscow Oblast.

On the evening of September 17, after the closure of the polling station  No. 0277 in Anapa, three unknown persons beat up Alexey Glemeida, an observer from candidate Dmitry Kolomiets. Immediately after the incident, the victim went to the hospital to report injuries and address the police. This was the second attack on the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) activists in Anapa on a single day. In the morning of the same day, gas was sprayed into the face of a proxy of the same candidate.

In Novorossiysk, an attack on Mikhail Okolizdaev from CPRF, a member of the PEC No. 3713 with the right of the decisive vote, was registered. According to his words, on September 18 at about 3:30 PM at the exit from the polling station, 3 unknown persons beat him, damaged his clothes, demanded to leave the voting premises and repeatedly threatened to ‘encounter’ him again in the evening.

At the Krasnodar PEC No. 2004, an observer complained about provokers hindering the exercise of her rights. Two young people lined up in front of the observer Lyudmila, said that they had to ‘guard’ her and needed to get to know her better. The observer published a video of the defiant behaviour of the young men, whose status at the station was not clear. The video shows that the members of the commission were laughing at what was happening.

At PEC No. 1009 of the Krasnodarskiy Krai, the commission ‘removed’ by its sole decision a TEC member with the decisive vote from CPRF. Having done so, the commission exceeded its official powers. At PEC No. 4336, a complaint was filed by the TEC against two members with an advisory vote, who observed the issuance of ballots. The members were accused of violating the anti-COVID recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor.

In the Moscow Oblast, polling stations of several cities were occupied by aggressive young people in sport suits. At several PECs in Lyubertsy there were ‘sportsmen’ who demonstrated aggressive behaviour, started pushing and tried to generate a conflict. They were at the stations, but refused to justify their presence. On August 18, an incident occurred at PEC No. 1164. A member of the TEC Lyubertsy with the right of an advisory vote wanted to inspect the voter lists. The commission did not object, but the athletic-looking guys began to interfere and behaved aggressively. Then a man appeared who began to summon the member of the TEC out of the station ‘for a small talk.’ Similar incidents arose in Korolev and Istra.

The police did not interfere with such actions. Moreover, in Istra, a police squad took two members of PEC No. 743 with an advisory vote to the police station. In Golitsyno, law enforcement officers intimidated an observer and threatened to initiate a criminal case because she had touched the ballot. They also asked her to withdraw her earlier complaint.

In Nakhabino, a member of the commission with an advisory vote, Sergei Shirin, was removed from PEC No. 1174. After he insisted on invalidating one ballot with the additional form of voting, an aggressive man appeared at the station, claiming that Sergei had run over his wife. The policeman asked both men to proceed to the police station in order to clarify the circumstances.

In the city of Pushkino, a PEC member was tried to be neutralized in a ‘softer’ way, and namely by a bribe. A municipal deputy from the United Russia party offered money for ‘cooperation’.

Attacks on commission members and observers were registered in other regions as well. Thus, at the station  No. 1079 in Makhachkala, Ibragim Nazhmutdinov, a member of Yabloko commission, was attacked by a man who introduced himself as an observer from the United Russia. The attacker was dissatisfied with Ibragim's circulation in the polling station. Vitaly Bondarev, a candidate to the Legislative assembly of the Krasnoyarskiy Krai, announced to have received death threats. He managed to catch the young men who had cut the wheels of his car twice. The guys were convoyed to the police station. In Berdsk, Novosibirsk Oblast, the door of the headquarters of independent candidates was sealed with cold welding. On September 18, a meeting with the TV anchor Tatyana Lazareva, who had come to Berdsk to work as an observer, was scheduled to be held in this very room.

There are reports coming from various regions about attempts to remove observers or commission members. In Moscow, a commission decided to deprive one PEC member with an advisory vote of their status. At about 9:00 AM, a person was removed (with the help of the police) from the polling station on the basis on protocol No. 19 (Grouds for exclusion from the commission). The chairman of the commission, Natalya Razova, claimed to have received statements from observers Ms. Mokina (public chamber) and Ms. Melnikova (United Russia) about the fact that Mr. Matveyev was agitating for CPRF. In the Novgorod Oblast, the commission tried to remove a PEC member with an advisory vote because of her complaint about marks on the voter's registry. Both the TEC and PECs members attributed the marks to a typographical fault. Members of PEC No. 2238 of the Chelyabinsk Oblast tried to remove from the premises a member of the PEC with an advisory vote from the Yabloko party. Arina Gurman reported violations and demanded the annulment of the results of the home-based voting. The TEC of the city of Nazran obstructed the submission of documents by a member of the commission with an advisory vote from Yabloko, referring to the fact that the party should have confirmed their appointment. At the same time, the telephones of the TEC were turned off, and the election commission of Ingushetia ignored calls from the proxies of the Yabloko party.

We would like to separately note the involvement of the police in resistance to observers, members of commissions and candidates. Back on September 17 (the fact became known on September 18) in Tatarstan, an observer was detained and taken to the police department due to a false charge of insult (Article 5.61 of the Code of administrative offenses of the Russian Federation). She was accused of demanding to film the filling of safety-bags. Her colleague from Yabloko, a member of the same PEC with an advisory vote, was also taken to the police department and charged with hooliganism (Article 20.1 of the Code of administrative offenses of the Russian Federation). The police confiscated the memory card from the video camera.

In Novosibirsk, a member of the commission No. 1850 with the right of an advisory vote, Svetomir Yun, was detained. Earlier, on his social networks he published video evidence that after the end of the voting day on September 17, his station was not closed and anyone could get in. The police charged him under part 9 of Art. 13.15 of the Administrative Code (‘Abuse of freedom of the media’). This article provides for a fine of up to 100k roubles.

In St. Petersburg, ex-candidate for deputy to the Legislative Assembly Irina Fatyanova was detained. Fatyanova wrote that unknown people were waiting for her near PEC No. 1641. They filmed her and then got into a fight. The police took them to the station along with Fatyanova. Also in St. Petersburg, a member of PEC No. 908 Yaroslav Doscal, detained by the police at a polling station, was taken to the police department. The reason for this was his disagreement with the chairman of the commission Ms. Solovyova, who accused Doscal of violations committed during the home-based voting. Solovyova considered that Doscal brought one unused ballot and, therefore, did not give it to a voter. To prove his being right, Doscal decided to take a picture of the safety-bag containing the ballots he had brought. The chairwoman of the commission called the police. Doscal was tied up, handcuffed and taken to the police station. During the arrest, the policemen broke his glasses.

In Moscow, police detained three TEC members when they recorded an attempt of falsification at PEC No. 36.

Overall statistics

'Golos' Movement conducts short-term observation in 51 regions, as well as at the polling stations operating abroad. The elections are monitored for compliance with generally recognized standards of free expression of will. The results are based on the regional data received from participants, organizers of voting, observers and media representatives. The information is received through various channels, including the hotline 8 800 333-33-50, the ‘Map of violations’ project, mass media, internet, social networks, and messengers.

On the second day of voting dated September 18 (at 9 PM, Moscow time), the 'Golos' Movement received 980 calls. The total duration of calls is of 2 days, 2 hours and 51 minutes. Also 911 messages were received by both the 'Map of violations', and other electronic sources.

As of September 18, the 5 leading regions in terms of reports of possible violations on the 1st day of voting are:

  1. Moscow city – 172
  2. Moscow Oblast – 128
  3. Saint Petersburg city – 86
  4. Krasnodarskiy Krai– 69
  5. Nizhny Novgorod and Chelyabinsk oblasts – 33 each


1 Multiple voting by the same persons at different polling stations – REM


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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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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).