We continue to acquaint our readers with those rare, brave individuals who challenged the Putin regime at home during elections in September 2022, when the regime began to receive the first sobering blows at the front in Ukraine.
What happened with the reckless candidates after the elections? How did they survive the ordeal? Who managed to stay, and who had to flee the country? You will learn it in the following, the final part of this coverage, which is currently being written exclusively for REM.
Today we will discuss budgetary workers and their role in Putin's regime. Who are the "budgetniki"? Are they the backbone of Putin's regime? In what countries and under what conditions are elections susceptible to manipulation through budgetary workers?
On 12 September 2022, President Zelensky announced the liberation of 6,000 km2 in a massive counter-offensive. For President Putin, the day was the beginning of a period of humiliating defeats, of the disgraceful retreat of his army and a chaotic attempt at mobilisation.
But up to this very day, there had been an election campaign in Russia. In the choking atmosphere of "special military operation", under censorship and repression for any word of dissent, there were amazing people who dared to challenge the System.
EPDE strongly condemns this act of repression, intimidation, and unlawful interference into citizens' constitutional right to free elections
The election outcomes were achieved in unfree, unequal election campaigns, in an environment of restrictions on the right to be elected for a substantial number of citizens and on fundamental political rights. Under such conditions, it is impossible to establish the actual will of the voters.
By the end of voting, tension at the polling stations was growing. The number of reports claiming that commission members, police and unauthorised persons put psychological pressure on observers has also increased.
According to Golos Movement, the main trends for the second voting day were conflicts between members of commissions and civic observers, signs of possible falsifications, and bribery and coercion of voters.
Main election day trends: pressure on election observers and candidates, bloated turnout in Distance E-Voting, coerced voting, failure of the Electronic Voter Register, violation of the rights of election committee members, observers and mass media, fabrication of fakes and attempts to discredit citizen observers.
Without the successes in Ukraine or on the propagandistic internal front, these elections are the last opportunity for the Kremlin to assert the concept of business-as-usual, to ensure the grip on regional assemblies. It is vital in the anticipation of an economic slump, Moreover, the new municipal structure needs a strong hand. Finally, it is a testing ground for “distant voting”, impermeable for observers.
This investigation is both a quantum leap in electoral observation and the most severe blow to the ruling party's reputation. As you’ll see, the findings even question who is the genuine ruling party in Russia. It was such a severe blow that Ms Pamfiliva, the chairwoman of the Russian Central Election Commission, personally reported the case to President Putin within a week of the publication.
The failure of the PR campaign uncanny resembles the collapse of the military campaign on the battlefields. A new media monitoring report on "special operation" describes the unexpected resistance of the Russian population to a heavy propagandistic barrage.
EPDE calls on all national and regional Parliaments of the EU, the European Parliament, the PACE and the OSCE (OSCEPA) to undertake measures preventing their members from participating in illegitimate “election observation”, organized to whitewash illegal electoral processes.
It is strange that the authorities are scared of a pretty harmless list of regions. These fears are expressed in the reduction of elections on party lists and in pressure on opposition figures and inconvenient MPs. But the main risk for the authorities is latent protest and sabotage as a time-honoured Russian tradition. The safest thing in such circumstances is to orchestrate the quietest campaign possible.
The upcoming E-day in Russia: deprived of the freedom of speech and party lists, elections are still the only way to grasp the citizens' attitude towards authorities.
Final part of electral fraud revelations made by the former vice-mayor of a millionaire Russian city.
Despite the fact that municipal deputies in the Russian capital are deprived of power, over the last years they have come to personify the ‘people’s choice’. But, after 24 February, the municipal election campaign is under threat. Apart from barriers put up by the authorities, politically active citizens are now scared and demoralised – and many have even left Russia. Who is left in Moscow to resurrect the ‘bottom rung’ of democracy?
Essential changes to Russia’s electoral legislation were introduced after its aggression against Ukraine. Indeed, one might discern some military flavour in these adjustments: discipline, unification, centralisation, monopolisation of chain of command, and elimination of tools of civil control. Dr Arkady Lyubarev, candidate of legal sciences, co-author of federal and Moscow electoral legislation, and editor in chief of the draft Electoral Code, gives his assessment of the further deterioration of the electoral system in Russia.
This story is quite exceptional. We’ve never heard the testimony of electoral fraud from a witness of such high administrative rank and political status: the former vice-mayor of a millionaire city, a former head of administration of a district, a member of the regional Political Council of the United Russia Party, ruling political organisation in the country, the Secretary of the district Political Council of the party and finally, a former KGB and FSB officer. Quite an informant!
The invaders have not been consistent in governing the temporarily occupied territories. L/DPR militants ‘appoint’ nonames to nonexistent offices in some places. In others, there are talks of holding a pseudo-referendum, and PR campaigns are run elsewhere to an incorporation in the occupied Crimea. The ‘people’s republic’ format will not work this time. However, it is still worth preparing for a negative scenario.
A. Kynev: All these hand-wringing and pathetic calls to each end everybody to repent is the utter public suicide of the opposition and a priceless gift to the government. No one has ever come to power or won an election on the pretext of humbling themselves and repenting. Therefore, this approach is an absolute dead-end and insane endeavour, at least from the electoral point of view.
The Russian authorities keep emasculating the institution of elections and modelling it after the Belarusian version. Notably, these changes do not match too well with the allegedly increased popular support for the Russian authorities against the backdrop of the war. Instead, it demonstrates a lack of confidence that the autumn elections will go smoothly.
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.
The 'League of Voters' Foundation appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for an interim measure requiring the Russian authorities not to liquidate it pending the ECHR proceedings on its earlier complaint. Should the liquidation proceed, it would make all future legal activities of the Foundation impossible: the organization would be unable to rent office space, collect donations, will lose all of its property, and would be forced to cease its human rights and educational activities.
On September 11, 2022, municipal elections will be held in 125 of Moscow's 146 districts. It is not yet known whether these elections will be a multi-day process, but it is already certain that online voting will be used again and that parties that are preparing for the elections are already facing candidate shortages. Yekaterina Grobman reviews the current situation and what we can expect in 2022.
Stanislav Andreychuk on how the Kremlin is changing laws that regulate Russia’s polity and elections to maintain the status quo.
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.
Russia is a highly diverse country from the point of view of its regions. Alexander Kynev looks at what is in store during the upcoming season of regional elections.
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.
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.
OVD-Info's statement on the liquidation of its partner - the 'Memorial' Human Rights Center.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The trend of mass dismissal of criminal cases for electoral crimes continues in the first half of 2021, according to findings of the Movement for the Defense of Voters' Rights 'Golos'. Penalties for electoral crimes in Russia remain extremely lenient and do not involve real imprisonment.
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.
The election campaign in the Leningrad Oblast ended on October 4 with the first meeting of the new convocation of the Oblast Legislative Assembly. Golos' analysis indicates that official election results reflect the undistorted will of voters in only 6 of the 25 districts of the region. Here is an overview of how the seventh convocation of the Leningrad regional parliament was formed.
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.
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.
Statement of the 'Movement in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos"' on inclusion of its members into the Foreign Agents Registry, October 5, 2021.
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.
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.
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.
A scandal in the capital: lengthy vote tabulation, a radical overhaul of the whole election results, and shut down of the observers' node.
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%.
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.
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"'.
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"'.
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.
'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.
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.
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.
Political competition's peculiarities: outcomes of candidate registration for September 19 regional and federal elections
The de facto impossibility to participate in elections for parties that must register candidates via signature collection turns their existence into a mere formality. This creates a vicious circle in which the system reproduces itself by welcoming only actors that are already 'in' and effectively barring new political players from elections.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PART 4: JUST RUSSIA-PATRIOTS-FOR TRUTH
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.
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.
PART 3: LDPR
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."
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.
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.
PART 2: CPRF
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.
PART 1: United Russia
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Russia has finally outlawed Alexey Navalny's political and anti-corruption movement. Here's how the crackdown affects activists, journalists, and ordinary supporters.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).