On August 18, under cover of the night, the Ministry of Justice of Russia included the ‘Golos’ movement into the registry of unregistered public associations performing the functions of a foreign agent under No. 1. As a source of foreign funding for the movement's activities, it is indicated some ‘citizen of the Republic of Armenia.’
We have no doubt that the current attack on the largest community of independent election observers just a month before election day is an attempt to prevent Russian citizens from exercising that very right of observation, which the Russian Constitutional Court considered to be a guarantee of public recognition of the election results.
Back in 2013, the Russian Constitutional Court recognized that the right of Russians to observe elections, as participants in collective sovereignty, is inseparable from the very right to elect. Otherwise, citizens are deprived of the opportunity to verify that their vote has been properly accounted for, which, in turn, raises doubts about the legality of electoral procedures and the legitimacy of elected deputies (Resolution of the Constitutional Court of 22.04.2013 No. 8-P). Similar provisions are enshrined in the international obligations assumed by Russia.
However, we see that the exact opposite is being done today. In fact, publicly available video monitoring has been destroyed, candidates are denied registration in elections at all levels without any real justification, citizens are deprived of the right to be elected retroactively, the OSCE has been forced to refuse to send international observation missions to the Russian elections (for the first time since 2008) due to the inability to meet the absurdly strict requirements for the size of the international mission established by the Russian authorities. All this is happening against the backdrop of constant pressure on the most prominent independent media and individual journalists, the adoption of repressive laws against the political opponents of the government.
There was no such pressure on observers, candidates, parties, journalists, ordinary citizens directly during the election campaign even in the ‘Churov’s era.’
One gets the impression that among the numerous organizers of the elections, those who do not care about the recognition of the election results by Russian citizens and the international community have taken the upper hand. The motives of these people are not state-related (even in that specific understanding of state interests that has taken root in the government in recent years), but purely personal – a demonstration of their zeal for career growth. They seem to be doing everything on purpose so as not to leave the country and the world even a chance to trust the results that the Central Election Commission of Russia will announce in September. Probably, these people themselves have nothing to lose.
Over the 21-year history of Golos, we have repeatedly faced pressure and various attempts to hinder the organizing of independent monitoring: we experienced being included into ‘foreign agents’, searches in the offices and homes of members of the movement, threats, arrests and even beatings. This always coincides with periods of declining support for the authorities and the associated increase in electoral fraud. Its organizers are trying to eliminate witnesses to their future crimes in advance.
This inclusion into ‘foreign agents’ is not the first in the history of Golos – we were among the first NGOs ‘awarded’ this title back in 2013, and now this status has been assigned to a movement that does not have any rights of a legal entity. And in this strange deja vu situation, we know one thing: Golos continued its work then, and will continue now.
The independent citizen observation is tens of thousands of responsible citizens trained as observers and commissioners at polling stations.
What is happening now means one thing: the authorities understand that they will not be able to get the desired result in the elections honestly and are afraid of mass independent observation. Therefore, active citizens, in spite of everything, need to take the most active part in the elections of the State Duma deputies.
We are convinced that civil society has learned a lot and has grown stronger over the past 20 years. And those who are trying to steal the country from the people feel it too. Therefore, together we will definitely get through this.