#Commentary
Plenary chamber of the Council of Europe's Palace of Europe. Image by PPCOE

Questionable credentials of the Russian Delegation to PACE after flawed Duma elections 2021

Briefing by the European Platform for Democratic Elections

 

SUMMARY

Independent election experts have described the 2021 Duma elections as the dirtiest elections in Russia's history. The lack of public control, the deprivation of ca. 9 Mio Russian citizens of the right to stand for election and the massive manipulation through application of uncontrolled e-voting have turned the Duma elections into a farce. The holding of elections on the annexed territory of Crimea and the inclusion of ca. 500.000 votes from inhabitants of the occupied Eastern Ukraine puts the legitimacy of the current State Duma and the new PACE delegation additionally under question. This breach of Protocol 1 § 3 is another substantial shortcoming of the Russian government with regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and should be sanctioned by PACE and the Committee of Ministers during the upcoming Winter Session of PACE accordingly. What are the options?

With this special briefing, the European Platform for Democratic Elections wants to shed a light on the past Duma elections. André Härtel, PhD, Researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin will assess the Russian membership in the Council of Europe as a challenge for the credibility and functionality of the institution and Prof. Dr. Caroline von Gall will look deeper into the question whether Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe can still guarantee legal action for Russian Citizen at the European Court on Human Rights.

Why Russia's PACE delegates cannot be considered legally elected parliamentarians

Independent election experts have described the 2021 Duma elections as the dirtiest in Russia's history.

Main intrigues were:

  • Lack of transparency in elections
  • Restriction of the right to vote
  • Manipulation through e-voting

The elections took place with the international public excluded and massive restrictions on domestic election observation

  1. The deployment of an international long-term observation mission of the ODIHR-OSCE was prevented under the pretext of pandemic control. As a result, PACE, PA OSCE and the European Parliament have not sent observer missions either.
  2. Civil society election observation and media were put under additional pressure in the run-up to the elections by extending 'foreign agent' laws to unregistered organizations, media and individuals between November 2020 and March 2021. The unregistered election observer movement Golos was declared a 'foreign agent' a month before the election to prevent its observation activities. At the same time, election observation was promoted by regime sponsored Civic Chambers with no methodical preparation.
  3. Due to the restrictive laws, several independent media outlets were shut down in the run-up to the election, while the state media ran smear campaigns against prominent opposition politicians and the Golos Movement.
  4. The election commissions remained under government control. They were given additional powers to remove unwanted journalists from polling stations.
  5. The Central Election Commission actively tried to limit the transparency of the election. Firstly, access to live coverage from polling stations, which has helped expose massive voting and vote counting fraud in past elections, has been restricted for independent election experts. Secondly, the publication of official election results on the websites of the Central Election Commission was blocked in order to prevent statistical analysis - a powerful tool developed by Russian experts to reveal massive election manipulations.

Restrictions on the right to stand for election

Since the last State Duma elections in 2016, there have been 19 changes to electoral law, six of them just before the September 2021 elections. The most important changes were aimed at restricting the right to stand for election. Firstly, Russian citizens can now be deprived of the right to stand for election even for minor offences and misdemeanours - including participation in protests. Secondly, with the so-called "extremism law" passed 3.5 months before the elections and the classification of Alexei Navalny's organizations as extremist only 5 days after adoption of the new law, all candidates of pro-Navalny organizations were prevented from standing for election. The law is also illegal because it is retroactive. This means that anyone who has already been involved in activities of Navalny's organizations in any way from summer 2020 onwards will not be able to stand for election until at least summer 2024 (for activists) and 2026 (for leaders). This means they will not be able to run in the upcoming presidential elections 2024 and perhaps even parliamentary elections in 2026. Anyone convicted of continued activity in Navalny's now-banned organizations faces up to six years in prison.

According to experts' estimates, a total of about 9 million Russian voters have lost the right to stand for election as a result of the recent law amendments (about 8 % of the total number of voters). This number is expected to increase significantly in the future. 

Massive falsification through e-voting

In seven regions - including Moscow e-voting was carried out for the first time. In Moscow, 2 million voters (almost a third of the electoral roll) registered for internet voting. In Moscow, the results of e-voting were only announced the next day following the election, after a meeting between Ella Pamfilova (Head of the Central Election Commission) and Vladimir Putin. The e-voting turned the results of the ballot box election upside down: With an official turnout of 96.5%, nine constituency winners of the ballot box election lost their seats to pro-Kremlin candidates after the e-voting results were included into the final vote count.

REV-2021. By Nackepelo

On 23 September, the Russian president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that the practice of e-voting should be spread as widely as possible.

Conclusion:

Looking at the data available, analyzed and compiled by independent election experts, it is clear that the deputies of the Duma elected in 2021, and thus also the PACE delegation, are not legitimized by free elections. The holding of elections on the illegally annexed Crimea and the access to elections for inhabitants of the occupied territories in Eastern Ukraine (ca 500.000 voters) is another factor that puts the legitimacy of the State Duma under question. This means a violation of Protocol 1 § 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and should be sanctioned by PACE in the upcoming winter session accordingly.

 

PECULIARITIES OF THE RUSSIAN DELEGATION TO THE PACE

Three members of the Russian delegation asking for credentials at the PACE Winter Session are on EU Sanction lists:

  • Leonid Slutsky
  • Svetlana Zhurova
  • Leonid Kalashnikov
Leonid Slutsky

Leonid Slutsky

  • Sanctioned for "actively supporting the use of Russian forces in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea" by EU, Norway, Iceland, the US, Canada, Australia and others
  • Organized 'fake election monitoring' via the Russian Peace Foundation - including of the 2018 presidential election with nearly 500 international 'observers'
  • Organized trip by P. Agramunt to Syria in 2017 (PACE).
  • Initiates networks on far-right European parties and movements
Aleksey Chepa

Aleksey Chepa

Just Russia

  • Co-organized 'fake election observation' of the 2018 parliamentary elections in Cambodia
  • Co-organized 'fake election observation' of the presidential elections in Russia 2018
Maria Butina

Maria Butina

United Russia, Kirov Region

  • Russian citizen, studied in USA
  • Arms lobbyist, built networks with Trump supporters in US
  • Sentenced in 2018 by US court to 6 months imprisonment for attempting to influence the 2016 US election
Evgeniy Popov

Evgeniy Popov

United Russia

  • Elected by manipulation of the internet vote in Moscow, constituency 197

 

Olga Kazakova

Olga Kazakova

United Russia

  • Elected through massive electoral fraud, approx. 21 % or 108,000 irregular votes in the election district

 

Russian Membership in the Council of Europe – Challenge for the credibility and functionality of the institution

André Härtel, PhD, Researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin

Council of Europe Department for Policy Planning 2012-2015

  1. Russia's admission to the Council of Europe (CoE) in 1996 can today only be understood in the context of the 1990s or the immediate phase after the end of the Cold War. Russia joined the organization without complying with its statutes. The hope and belief of the other members and the leadership of the Council of Europe was to be able to socialize Russia better within the organization than outside. In addition, access of Russian citizens to the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) was already highly valued at that time. However, internal organizational factors also played a role, such as the political upgrading of the Council of Europe through Russia's accession and its expected contribution to the Council of Europe's budget.
  2. Until the annexation of Crimea, Russia was a difficult member of the CoE, implementing the European Convention on Human Rights and other agreements only selectively (a la carte), but also contributing constructively to the work of the organization through professional individuals. However, a simmering issue of conflict in the background was always the "double standards" perceived by Russia and other new members within the CoE. For example, Russian representatives always criticized the focus of the organization's work on democratic and human rights deficits in the new, especially post-Soviet, member states, while problems within the old membership were hardly addressed.
  3. The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 was a turning point in the country's relationship with the CoE, but one that was primarily initiated by Moscow. The withdrawal of the Russian delegation's voting rights by the Assembly was a symbolically significant but ultimately ineffective sanction. The Committee of Ministers, the decisive structure in the CoE, can be accused of inactivity. This allowed the Russian leadership to make a kind of open declaration of war on the CoE in 2017, which led to success in 2019 via the changes to the Rules of Procedure on the withdrawal of voting rights (!) and the basically unconditional return of the Russian delegation.
  4. The main argument for Russia to remain in the CoE has always been the access of Russian citizens to the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR). However, this is from an empirically point of view, flawed. Since Russia acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights in 1998, it has implemented only 40% of the approximately 2,600 judgments handed down against it, and in most cases only pays the corresponding compensation (again, only selectively). In the last 10 years, the implementation rate for significant sentences has been as low as 10%. In 2021, the most cases were pending against Russia, with over 13,000. Moreover, since a Russian law was passed in 2015 and due to the Russian constitutional amendments of 2020, it is very questionable to what extent ECtHR judgments will be recognized by the Russian government at all.

Recommendations to Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:

  • The option of Russia's expulsion from the Council of Europe needs to be on the table for the case in which the Russian government systematically uses its membership to sabotage the CoE's work and manages to weaken the binding character of the ECHR in other countries.
  • Otherwise Russian membership has its value as the CoE is the only multilateral organization with agreed upon procedures to criticize Russia’s human rights and democracy conduct and force the Russian government to justify their policies.

Members of new delegation should focus on the following:

  1. Do focus on core human rights and democracy issues in daily work and do not engage in marginal topics such as institutional reform etc.
  2. Form working alliances with like-minded PACE members and ambassadors to the Committee of Ministers to increase pressure on the Russian government in order to ensure access of rapporteurs to the country and to increase the implementation of leading ECtHR judgements.
  3. Work closer with German Foreign Ministry and representatives to the Committee of Ministers to synchronize PACE work with the work of the Committee of Ministers and to ensure Committee of Ministers follow up.
  4. Take CoE work and what happens there out of the shadow of European politics by communicating more with civil society and major media.

 

Can Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe still guarantee legal action for Russian Citizen at the European Court on Human Rights?

Prof. Dr. Caroline von Gall is an Associate Professor (Juniorprofessor) at the Institute for Eastern European Law at the University of Cologne

Art. 8 of the Pace Rules of Procedure provides that credentials may be challenged in the event of serious violations of the primacy of law and the obligation to "co-operate sincerely and actively in the common pursuit of human rights, democracy and the rule of law". This corresponds with the membership requirements in general.

In fact, Russia did not even fulfil the requirements at the moment of accession. Instead, exceptions were defined from the beginning to justify membership. Central to this was that membership

  • would provide an important forum for dialogue with Russia and,
  • Russian citizens would be able to bring cases before the ECtHR. The possibility of legal action became an important argument especially after Russian human rights defenders warned in 2018/19 that in case Russia should leave the Council of Europe also the possibility of legal action for Russian citizens before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) would be lost.

This exception to the principle is a problem overall, because it is precisely the European Convention on Human Rights that is built on voluntary membership, the principle of subsidiarity. The Council of Europe has hardly any enforcement instruments of its own. Structurally, the Council of Europe cannot work against individual member states. At the same time, rights are granted: all member states can elect judges to the ECtHR and influence policy. A member state that does not fulfil the basic requirements as laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights always reveals the weakness of the Council of Europe.

Exceptions can therefore only be justified if, despite the lack of membership requirements, membership serves the aims of the Council of Europe as a whole.

There are no indications of this today in the case of Russia. Russia more than clearly refuses to engage in a dialogue on the implementation of the Council of Europe's goals.

While Russia recognized the values of the Council of Europe, the primacy of international treaties over Russian law and the importance of human rights, at least on paper, in its 1993 constitution, the Russian government has now expressly abandoned them.

Even the access to the European Court on Human Rights for Russian citizen cannot in itself serve the aims of the Council of Europe if the Russian government refuses to implement its judgements.

It does create individual satisfaction and objective reappraisal.

However, the Russian example in particular shows that the possibilities of appealing to the ECtHR are limited. Individual complaints can only be used to deal with individual cases. In view of the profound structural violations of the European Convention on Human Rights through the Russian government, however, almost every citizen could theoretically claim a violation of rights. And if citizens had the know-how and the resources to file a complaint, the ECtHR would be massively overburdened. As of 30.11.2021, 16,300 cases from Russia were pending before the ECtHR.

It is therefore extremely problematic that the in the case of Russia judgements are only pronounced years later, often after individuals have been imprisoned for a long time. The long duration of proceedings in the case of Memorial and the NGOs affected by the Russian law on Foreign Agents has proven to be particularly precarious. Memorial had already filed a first complaint against the Foreign Agent Law in 2013. But the verdict is still pending. Since then, almost the entire organized NGO landscape has disappeared.

But if the verdicts are then only pronounced after more than 9 years, they are not only a symbol of late justice. The finding of a breach of the law after years of repression and extensive destruction of Russian NGOs without any prospect of being able to enforce the verdict then also becomes a demonstration of power by the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin can show with every unimplemented verdict that international law cannot protect against profound human rights violations. And that is why he also wants to show the powerlessness of the West. These judgements contribute to this demonstration of power, also in the Navalny case.

In this respect, mistakes have been made in the past: Precisely because Russian membership to the Council of Europe was ultimately justified primarily by the possibility of legal action, the complaints should have been used more in their leverage function. Faster procedures and political pressure on the Russian government to enforce the rulings would have been necessary. Here, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers could have been used more. In the Navalny case, infringement proceedings under Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights would have been conceivable; in principle, states can also file state complaints.

In 2019, Memorial had already warned against the argument of the possibility of legal action and described it as a trap. If criticism of the Russian human rights situation had been spared in recent years precisely in order to prevent Russia's withdrawal from the Council of Europe, because the citizens should retain the possibility of legal action, then in any case not much would have been gained for human rights in the Memorial case.

Against this background, the possibility of legal action can only be an argument if the decisions are made promptly and if there is some reasonable hope that the judgments will also be implemented, which is not the case.

Ultimately, one must be careful not to recognize the annexation of Crimea with the confirmation of credentials to the Russian Delegation.

Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos'. By Photobank Moscow-Live
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Map of Violations, Golos website. Screenshot - Aug. 20, 2021

PCR tests for voters and candidate flights at public expense

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.

 

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Screenshot of Golos' statement cover image

Statement on the continuation of the work of the Movement 'Golos' after being included in the 'Foreign agents' registry

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.

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Russian regional elections in 2018. Image by Wikimedia Commons

Political and Legal Peculiarities of September 2021 Regional and Local Elections

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.

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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

Main Russian Political Parties: Mode of Operations and Regional Support Base

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?

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

Open appeal of the 'Golos' Movement to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin

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.

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

The administrative resource is gaining momentum, and independent candidates continue to face registration denials

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.

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

Main Russian Political Parties: Mode of Operations and Regional Support Base

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?

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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

Russian elections again without OSCE observation

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."

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

CEC restricts journalists' access to the electoral process

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.

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

‘Extremists’, ‘foreign agents’, and the abuse of administrative resource

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.

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

Main Russian Political Parties: Mode of Operations and Regional Support Base

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?

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

No public video broadcast from the polling stations during the September elections

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.

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

Main Russian Political Parties: Mode of Operations and Regional Support Base

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?

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

19 times: How the election law was changed before the 2021 State Duma elections

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.

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TV reporter, Bryansk. Photo - pxfuel

No tolerance for dissent: the state of Russian media ahead of 2021 elections

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.

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

What are "foreign agents" and "undesirable organizations"?

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?

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

Five years of silence: More than 20 State Duma lawmakers haven't said a word in parliament since they were elected in 2016

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.

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Kaluga. A Holiday. Image - flickr

Lessons From Online Voting During the United Russia Primaries

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.

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Arrest by the police. Image - Wikimedia Commons

Deprival of passive suffrage – who cannot run in the 2021 Duma Elections and why

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.

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

Online Voting Testing in the Russian Federation: Observers’ Assessment

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.

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

Conditions for Citizen Election Observation in the Russian Federation Ahead of the 2021 Duma Elections

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.

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

How Authorities Stripped Russians Of Choice

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.

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

Hundreds of Thousands of Extremists

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

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

The Law Prohibiting People Involved in Activities of Extremist Organizations from Participating in Elections Is Adopted

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

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Electoral headquarters of Alexey Navalny. Photo - Wikimedia Commons

Now Extremists. How Alexei Navalny's Supporters May Be Persecuted

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.

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

United Russia Primaries 2021: How Electoral Technology Became Administrative

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.

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

Implementation of OSCE/ODIHR Recommendations to Russia Following 2003-2018 Federal Elections

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.

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Man using computers. Photo by: Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Online Elections in Russia: Manipulating Votes in a New Digital Realm

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.

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Alexei Navalny. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

New Legislation Aims To Block Opposition Candidates

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.

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

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. 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).

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