Voting. By Photobank Moscow-Live

Preliminary findings of observation of the September 19, 2021, State Duma elections

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".'

Almost 4.5 thousand electoral campaigns took place on the Single Voting Day of 19 September 2021 in Russia, including the election of the State Duma, direct elections of heads in nine regions, elections of 39 regional legislatures, and local elections.

Golos ran long-term and short-term observation of all stages of the campaign.

Six analytical reports were produced based on findings of long-term observation: on campaigning and voter mobilization1, on candidate nomination and registration at main regional and local elections, on candidate nomination and registration2 at the State Duma election, on infringements on electoral rights of Russian citizens3, on legal peculiarities of the State Duma election4, and on political and legal peculiarities of regional and local elections5.

Golos obtained information from observers, members of electoral commissions, media representatives, voters, candidates, parties, and partner observation groups via multiple channels, including hotline 8 800 333 33 50, the 'Map of Violations', and the web.  

In the course of the elections, the united call centre's hotline received 5,943 calls (the total time of calls was 11 days, 6 hours, and 51 minutes). The 'Map of Violations' received 4,973 messages about potential violations as of noon 20 September, Moscow time, including 3,787 on the voting days.

When assessing elections, Golos is guided by constitutional and international standards that are accepted by Russia, which assume that free elections are those conducted in a free and competitive campaign, with equal opportunities for participating candidates, while the voting results are obtained via free participation of voters and enable establishing the real will of voters with certainty. Freedoms of expression, association, and assembly are seen as a mandatory condition for the free articulation of the will of voters.

Regretfully, in its primary assessment of the current elections, the 'Golos' Movement has to state that it cannot consider them genuinely free and fully compliant neither with the Constitution and legislation of the Russian Federation nor with the international electoral standards. The results are obtained in an unfree and unequal electoral campaign, while the passive electoral rights of a significant number of citizens were limited. This prevents us from asserting that the real will of voters was articulated in a free electoral campaign. Violations during voting and vote-count and the three-day procedure of voting undermine the trust in the reliability of the results produced by the system of electoral commissions. Moreover, we believe the way the vote count was conducted in a number of regions has also largely distorted the outcome.

The legislation was strongly modified in 2020-2021, leading to de facto deprivation of an opportunity to stand for elections for many politically active citizens who were in opposition to the incumbent power holders, which is at odds with the Constitution. The ballot sheets were cleaned off some part of Russia's political spectrum, inherently preventing a large number of Russian citizens from electing their representatives.

The state monopolization of media and political bias of courts and electoral commissions resulted in a manifold advantage of the main political actor, the administration, in the campaign, which in fact was in a violation of the electoral legislation.

On the voting days, some regions saw violations indicating the return of the practice of direct fraud, such as the expulsion of observers, restriction of access to information, and breach of procedures, which all resulted in the distortion of the outcome of the voting.

The documented facts of fraud and violations in procedures, including in the vote count, demand further verification, including a detailed analysis of video recordings from polling stations. It is only after the analysis when the final assessment of the vote-count results is possible.

1. General assessment of the electoral campaign preceding the voting days

The pre-election campaign was characterized by the following peculiarities.

1.1. Restriction of passive electoral rights

The system established in Russia by 2021 enables arbitrary deprivation of citizens' rights to stand for election by the incumbent authorities. The situation had grossly deteriorated compared to 2016 when the previous State Duma election was held. In addition to the previous eligibility barriers, such as the second citizenship, residence permit or foreign financial instruments, criminal record for grave and particularly grave crimes, and some administrative offenses, new ones were added: criminal record for medium-gravity crimes and 'involvement' in organizations designated as 'extremist.' In total, 9 million Russian citizens lost their constitutional right to be elected to state bodies and local self-government.

1.2. Manipulations of legislation in run-up to elections

According to the international standards accepted by Russia, the stability of electoral legislation is among key preconditions for free and democratic elections. It is necessary to prevent the power holders from manipulating the rules to advance their own interests.

In reality, the number and density of significant amendments passed within months prior to the launch of the elections indicate non-compliance with the principle of legislation stability as a guarantee against abuse of power. The major bulk of novelties adopted from 2018 to 2021 seek to diminish the political competition at the election and facilitate fraud. Consequently, the electoral law has significantly deteriorated since the previous election of the State Duma of Russia in 2016.

1.3. Loss of independence of electoral commissions

Once established as dedicated bodies to defend the electoral rights of voters, electoral commissions are gradually losing their agency. In this campaign, executive and security bodies de facto took the role of vetting to-be candidates as one of the main actors in the primary filtration of unwanted candidates. The electoral commissions either try to distance themselves from defending electoral rights of citizens or serve as an accomplice.

1.4. The reduction in the number of registered candidates

While the status of a candidate gives close to no advantages, and amidst increasing barriers for candidate registration and growing risks associated with participation in elections and in politics in general, citizens are much more hesitant to nominate their candidacies for the State Duma election. Potential candidates realize that the authorities possess tools for arbitrary denial of registration. While registration via signature collection appeared close to impossible, the parties were under pressure. As a result, some strong potential candidates decided not to run, failed, or were denied access. In some cases, strong candidates in single-seat districts would withdraw from the race after obtaining the registration.

The number of candidates to drop out of party lists is well above the level of 2016, while the number and share of the registered self-nominated candidates have hit the low of 2016. As a result, the number of registered single-seat candidates has also dwindled since 2016.

1.5. Government's opposition to the freedom of information

Free and meaningful public political debate is a prerequisite for articulating the free will of voters. However, despite its Constitution, Russia has seen an emerging state censorship system and total propaganda in media for years. Websites of authorities and local self-government bodies and information channels of public institutions joined media in distorting the information field. The current electoral campaign was not an exception, as the frequency of mentioning and the total broadcasting time allocated to United Russia on central TV stations were equal to those given to other parties altogether and exceeded them all manifold in some periods. By these indicators, CPRF is 4 to 5 times behind.

In parallel, these elections were under the stronger influence of another environment with more freedom, primarily relying on the remaining independent media and social media. Despite authorities' serious efforts towards the domination of social media, alternative viewpoints were quite broadly represented. This particularity makes this election different from the previous one by adding a more equal public presentation of parties. Rather than by merit of the government, which is obliged to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens by the Constitution of Russia, this is due to the changing context that the state propaganda machine is gradually losing in impact. The problems the government is facing in controlling public opinion might be a reason for its increasingly repressive practices in managing the information space.

1.6. Breeching principles of transparency in publishing information about activities of electoral commissions

The legislation proclaims the principle of transparency and openness in the activities of electoral commissions. This is a key factor in ensuring public trust in the outcome of elections. Unfortunately, this is another consecutive electoral race, during which the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Russia is making more steps away from this principle, despite frequently proclaimed efforts to promote election transparency.

In particular, requirements to technological, software, and linguistic utilities of websites of electoral commissions changed in September 2021. The function of search and copying fragments of text on the website was replaced with the function of previewing the content. The requirement to upload regulations and other documents 'in a format enabling users to save them on their devices and, after saving, to search and copy any fragment of the text by an appropriate preview software ('document in electronic form') and, additionally, as 'graphic images' was removed. The requirement to ensure a possibility of automatic processing was lifted in 2019, while the requirement to protect the websites of electoral commissions from tools of automatic processing was added in 2021.

During recent days, CEC Russia coded the results of previous and current elections in the public version of the State Automated System Elections (GAS Vybory) on so that the data of election protocols cannot be copied. While copy-pasting, numbers transform into letters. On 17 September, also introduced a rigid preview limit of 30 PEC protocols per user, followed by blocking if exceeded. The website became so slow on the morning of 20 September that it was virtually impossible to use.

In addition, CEC Russia shifted to publishing protocol data from GAS Vybory6 with a substantial time lag after publicizing the aggregated data in the information centre of CEC Russia.

The prohibition of public video streams from polling stations came as another way of concealing crucial public information.

1.7. Pressure on journalists and observers

In the run-up to the voting day, the government stepped up pressure on independent observers and journalists, most visible in the designation of Movement 'Golos', a number of media and individual journalists as so-called 'foreign agents', blocking information resources, and labeling an investigative outlet Project as an 'undesirable organization'. This was accompanied by an orchestrated state-led smear campaign against citizen observation. As a part of it, central TV stations and other big media, and members of public chambers and electoral commissions would circulate sham videos and other false information from anonymous Telegram channels without any verification.

2. Preliminary findings of observation on voting days (17–19 September)

Independent observers noted the following main peculiarities of the voting days.

2.1. Growing burden on commission members and observers due to the three-day voting

The level of openness and transparency of the electoral system has obviously decreased. Overseeing the three days of voting exhausts the commission members and observers. By the end of Day 3, many experience natural fatigue, and their vigilance and reaction speed subside.

Simultaneously, a visible trend is to imitate the public watchdogging by engaging quasi-NGOs and propaganda groups. In an imitation of frenzied activities, the groups declare that they have trained huge numbers of observers who are present at all polling stations. In fact, however, observers delegated by public chambers appear to be staff of public institutions or administration-affiliated civil society, frequently members of United Russia, who might also be used for counteracting genuine citizen observation.

2.2. Lack of possibility for the public to check the integrity of e-voting

In its Decision dated 22 April 2013 No. 8-P, the Constitutional Court of Russia noted that the right of citizens to participate in state governance goes beyond free voting per se. As associated participants of the people's sovereignty, citizens shall be entitled to oversee the procedures of vote-count and establish the voting outcome and a possibility of legitimate response to revealed violations. Therefore, the Constitutional Court of Russia indicates the inalienability of the citizens' right to exercise oversight of the procedures of expression of will. This representation is designed to guarantee the legitimacy of voting decisions in the minds of both their supporters and opponents.

However, the legislator has not provided effective tools for citizens to exercise this constitutional right in the case of remote online voting. The system of voting and vote count is non-transparent even for people with special IT knowledge, leave alone the rest of the voters. Therefore, the current system of e-voting is not in line with high standards on accountability of electoral procedure to the public.

The Portal failures on the first voting day undermined the trust in the online voting system even further. While a significant share of voters faced challenges in exercising their active electoral right throughout the three days of voting, the vote count unexplainably extended into the morning of 20 September.

2.3. Coercion to vote

A phenomenon incompatible with free choice, coercion to vote is a problem of Russian elections, unaddressed for years. However, the introduction of three-day and online voting created more tools for coercion.

The multiday voting enabled many employers to supervise the electoral participation of their staff, something exemplified by huge crowds of voters that took hours for commissions to serve early in the morning of Friday, 17 September, in many polling stations across the country.

In the context of coercion and lack of trust in the system, e-voting also facilitated manipulating the choices of voters who fell under the influence of employers or authorities. Given the lack of understanding about the system, many citizens had fears that their superiors would see how they voted.

2.4. Incompliance with procedures of voting, documentation storage, and vote count

As the Constitutional Court of Russia established in its Determination No. 1575-O dated by 25 June 2019, the legislator shall take due care to ensure that 'electoral procedures that it introduces are fair and transparent, prevent the possibility of falsification of the outcome of the electoral process, and facilitate objective and reliable reflection of actual results of citizens' electoral volition.' The Constitutional Court has also noted that consistent fulfillment of requirements established by law was, in essence, the only way to eliminate a possibility of inaccurate calculation (miscalculation) of votes and wrong (incorrect) reflection thereof in the final voting protocol.

However, many commissions easily skipped procedures at all stages, including the voting days, storage of ballots and documents in the night, and during the vote count. Observers and commission members from across the country sent notifications about such violations over the entire period of voting and vote-count in vast numbers. As a result, it was impossible to check the integrity of voting results even when commissions had no ill will (to say nothing about situations when the ill will was present). Because of this, the public has virtually no opportunity to double-check and assure itself that the elections are fair.    

2.5. Obstructing observers, commission members and media, and power game tactics

During these days, the system of electoral commissions opposed the observers more fiercely than ever for at least five years. Methods used included expulsions from polling stations, including police-assisted measures with no court decision, threats to life and health, property damage, and even physical assault attempts by unidentified individuals, tolerated by both the police and electoral commission members (beatings, blocking cars, obstacles in accessing polling stations, etc.).

In fact, the three days between 17 and 19 September in many regions annulled the multiannual measures by the previous membership of CEC Russia towards normalization in relations between commissions and observers. Particularly outstanding were Moscow Oblast, Saint Petersburg, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Krasnodar Krai. Alarming are facts of non-interference of police in cases of violence by organized groups as if the government had delegated its violence monopoly to unknown persons.

2.6. Mobile voting issues

Mobile voting (home voting) remains in place as an administrative technology for altering voting outcomes. Without expressing their will to vote at home, many persons were engaged in home voting. Proxy voting is another practice associated with home voting. Rather than composing their own list of home voting applications voluntarily submitted by voters, most electoral commissions rely on lists shared by the executive and social welfare bodies.

Some precinct electoral commissions displayed unrealistic numbers of persons voting at home. This practice also facilitated direct fraud and falsification of voter participation. In a number of polling stations, cases of cancellation of home voting results are documented.

2.7. Ballot stuffing, proxy voting, and multiple voting

Symptomatically, the most alarming notifications about pressure on observers, commission members, media, and candidates, came from regions where fraud was traditionally common. This time was not different in terms of high numbers of notifications about possible cases of ballot-box stuffing, multiple voting, or proxy voting. Observers reported cases of late-night intrusions into polling stations and removals of seals, stamps, and safe packages. Throughout the voting days, reports of proxy voting came from numerous regions.


1 See a summary in Deutsch here - REM

2 See a summary in Deutsch here - REM

3 See a summary in Deutsch here - REM

4 See a summary in Deutsch here - REM

5 See a summary in Deutsch here - REM

6 The State Automated System of the Russian Federation 'Vybory' (elections) - REM


Original text may be found here (RU).

Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos'. By Photobank Moscow-Live

From election observers to ‘foreign agents’: how voters' rights defenders of the ‘Golos’ Movement are persecuted

Since September 2021, twenty regional coordinators and experts of the 'Golos' Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights were added to the registry of foreign media outlets performing the functions of 'a foreign agent'. Here's an overview of how election observers are being targeted and persecuted.

Read more …

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

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 millions of Russian citizens of their passive suffrage, massive manipulation of results through e-voting, holding of elections on the annexed territory of Crimea, and the inclusion of voters from the occupied Eastern Ukraine put the legitimacy of the current State Duma and the new PACE delegation under question.

Read more …

Detained Anti-corruption Foundation and Newcaster.TV staff, 2017. Photo by Ruslan Leviev

2021 Results. Laws of the year

The passing year built on legislative trends of the previous one and even brought about many innovations in censorship, limitations of online activities, and infringements on privacy. Such provisions include multiple prohibitions related to the Great Patriotic War, the ‘law against Anti-Corruption Foundation’, and infamous QR codes.

Read more …

Policemen block a street in Moscow. Photo by Sergey Korneev

On the liquidation of International Memorial

On 28 December 2021 Russia's Supreme Court ruled to close International Memorial. The lawsuit, filed by the Prosecutor General's Office, referred to a missing 'foreign agent' designation on some of the materials produced by International Memorial. This is only a formal pretext, though, and the court hearings showed that these allegations were groundless.

Read more …

Rally for the right to vote in Moscow (2019-07-27). Photo by Ilya Varlamov

Things Will Not Be The Same: OVD-Info on the Liquidation of Memorial NGOs

OVD-Info's statement on the liquidation of its partner - the 'Memorial' Human Rights Center.

Read more …

Navalny's Election Headquarters. Image by Dmitry Rozhkov

Departed Russia of the Future

Hardly any of Navalny's key allies currently remain in Russia. The Insider interviewed former coordinators of Navalny's regional headquarters to find out why and how they left, what they do in exile, and under what conditions they are willing to return to Russia.

Read more …

Basmanny District Court. Image by Photobank Moscow Live

Russia is liquidating the League of Voters

On December 8, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow ruled to liquidate the 'League of Voters' Foundation. Its leaders believe that the ruling is politically motivated and is aimed to destroy the organization which is a partner in the 'Golos' Movement and supports the training of independent citizen election observers in Russia.

Read more …

State Duma. Image by Moscow Live/flickr

Created and (or) distributed: Discriminatory aspects of the application of legislation on ‘foreign agents’

OVD-Info reviews the newly expanded 'foreign agents' law to identify and analyze discriminatory aspects of the legislation and its application.

Read more …

2019 Moscow City Duma election. Image by Krassotkin

Undercover: How observers are trained at the Civic Chamber of Moscow

A member of the 'Golos' Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights recounts their experience observing elections on behalf of the Moscow Civic Chamber. According to the activist, the institution appears to purposefully instruct observers in such a manner as to limit their ability to make a real difference at the polling stations.

Read more …

Russian coach at Helsinki Central Railway Station. Image by Antti Leppänen

The Party's gold. How United Russia misappropriates Russian Railways’ money under the guise of "donations"

Last year United Russia collected a record amount of donations from legal entities, 4.8 billion rubles. The Insider learned that the party received about half of this money from major Russian Railways contractors, some of which seemingly could not afford to make such "donations". Despite claiming to channel funds towards charity and fighting the Coronavirus, the party spent it on the maintenance of its apparatus and election campaigning.

Read more …

Russian flag with gloomy clouds. Image by Pxhere

‘Golos‘ Movement supports Memorial and calls for an emergency civic meeting

Russian authorities have moved to liquidate the International Historical Educational Charitable and Human Rights Society 'Memorial' and its affiliate, Russian Human Rights Centre 'Memorial'. The 'Golos' Movement calls for solidarity with Russia's longest-standing human rights organization.

Read more …

Moscow, the Kremlin and Red Square. Photo by Vyacheslav Argenberg

Elections, totalitarian style

The political bloc of the Moscow Mayor's office has begun campaign preparations for the 2022 municipal elections. Meduza breaks down the key points in the preliminary campaign plan here.

Read more …

Man working on a computer in the dark. Image by Comstock

Golos' statement on the online voting in Russian elections

Following the observation of the September 19, 2021 elections, the 'Golos' Movement stated that 'the current electronic voting system does not meet the high standards of public accountability of electoral procedures', which the Russian Constitution and legislation establish as mandatory. Despite this position, some promoters of online voting in Russia have been claiming otherwise.

Read more …

Ufa, Bashkortostan. Photo by Sasha India/flickr

Election Day-2021 in Bashkiria: 'Put in the target number I set'

Preliminarily evaluating the elections to the Ufa City Council and the State Duma in the Republic of Bashkortostan, the 'Golos' Movement regretfully cannot recognize the elections as truly fair, i.e., fully compliant with the Constitution, the laws of the Russian Federation, the laws of the Republic of Bashkortostan, and international election standards.

Read more …

Krasnodar 2021 election results, by S. Shpilkin

Statistical analysis of elections in Kuban

According to the analysis by Sergey Shpilkin, 889 thousand out of 1.7 million votes for United Russia in Kuban do not fall into the normal mathematical distribution. This can result from direct falsifications, pressurized voting of the employees of state-owned enterprises, public institutions, and local authorities, and the use of an administrative resource.

Read more …

CPRF rally in Moscow, 2011. Photo by Wikimedia

When they came for the Communist Party: Arrests, sieges, and pressure on supporters after the State Duma elections

The Communist Party received 19% of the votes in the last elections to the State Duma. After that, the party's supporters faced unprecedented pressure for the 'systemic opposition.' They were detained, fined, sentenced to administrative arrests, and blocked in the party premises. CPRF continues to challenge the election results and demand an investigation by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Read more …

Russian State Duma raises retirement age. Image by Wikimedia

Hot potato: Nearly a fifth of Russia’s new State Duma deputies owe their jobs to secondhand mandates

On Tuesday, October 12, the new convocation of Russia's State Duma convened for its first session. Roughly a fifth of all lawmakers — 88 of 450 deputies — received their seats from higher-ranked candidates on party lists, winning the jobs because others didn't want them.

Read more …

Election observation headquarters. Photo by Golos

'Golos' Movement: It won't be easy, but we can do it

Statement of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' on inclusion of its members into the Foreign Agents Registry, October 5, 2021.

Read more …

Map of Violations, Screenshot Oct. 8, 2021

Map of violations: three record-setting days

In total, from the beginning of voting dated September 17, 'Map of Violations' by the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' published 4592 reports. The Map is a project that collects information about possible electoral violations using the principle of crowdsourcing – observers, voters, members of commissions may report alleged violations witnessed during the electoral campaigning or voting using a submission form on the website or a telephone hotline.

Read more …

REV-2021. By Nackepelo

First Findings of the Moscow's Remote Electronic Voting Technical Audit

The "remote electronic voting" or online voting held in the Russian capital during the September 17-19, 2021 elections was scandalous, to say the least. In response, two groups have been formed by the Russian public to scrutinize the results.

Read more …

Regions by level of electoral fraud

Levels of electoral fraud in the Russian regions

In order to help assess the outcomes of 2021 State Duma elections, the 'Movement in the Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' provides a reference analysis, dividing Russian regions into six groups based on the level of falsifications in the federal elections of 2016 and 2018 and in the all-Russian voting in 2020.

Read more …


Remote electronic voting: results cannot be verified

A scandal in the capital: lengthy vote tabulation, a radical overhaul of the whole election results, and shut down of the observers' node.

Read more …

"We don't trust Churov - we trust Gauss". Image by Golos

2021 State Duma elections: first statistical estimates

Sergey Shpilkin analyzes data from 96,840 polling stations that cover 107.9 million registered voters out of 109.2 million on the list. His analysis demonstrates that at the polling stations where the results appear genuine, the turnout is on average 38% and the United Russia's share of votes is between 31% and 33%.

Read more …

Voting. By Photobank Moscow-Live

Preliminary findings of observation of the September 19, 2021, State Duma elections

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.

Read more …

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

Read more …

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

Voting Day 1: A Brief Overview

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"'.

Read more …

Campaigning in Samara. 2011 elections. Image by Golos

The election campaign and administrative mobilization of voters in September 19, 2021 elections

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.

Read more …

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

'The three heroes': more than a third of social media mentions are related to United Russia, CPRF, and the New People party

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.

Read more …

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

Residents of Russia-Occupied East Ukrainian Territories Encouraged to Vote in 2021 State Duma Elections

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.

Read more …

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

Arrests, bribery, threats

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.

Read more …

Map of Violations Update - Aug 30-Sept 1

Arrests, arson, and being fired for refusing to register for remote voting

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.

Read more …

Social media. Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

Two universes: unlike on television, in social networks, United Russia and the Communist Party are almost head-to-head

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.

Read more …

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

Vladimir Putin plans to win Russia’s parliamentary election no matter how unpopular his party is

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.

Read more …

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

‘Imaginary’ campaign boards and an assignment to vote in prisons

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.

Read more …

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

Consequences of the ‘law against the Anti-Corruption Foundation’: opposition candidates are denied participation in elections

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.

Read more …

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

The outcomes of nomination and registration of candidates to the State Duma of the Russian Federation

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.

Read more …

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

Pressure on voters and state control over social media accounts

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.

Read more …

Behind a camera. Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio

Uneven access and unbalanced coverage: media monitoring findings after eight weeks of the campaign

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.

Read more …

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.


Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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

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."

Read more …

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

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

"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?

Read more …

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, 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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

"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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

Plenary meeting of the State Duma. Image - Wikimedia Commons

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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. 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).

Read more …