On 14 September, TV Rossiya 24 showed a story about likely provocations at polling stations to be staged by Golos movement and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). As evidence, the TV used footing of two obviously sham videos published by anonymous Telegram channels on 13 and 14 September. Another similar video was published on internet on 15 September. Rossiya 24 included it in its story on 16 September. The movies follow the same script, with an imitation of briefing someone to organise provocations during the elections. The narrative creates an impression in the audience that Golos hosts the meeting. State-controlled and other federal and regional media started publishing similar stories.
We state that the movement Golos bears no relation to the events in these videos. Days before the voting, we view these publications as an intentional provocation and defamation to discredit Golos and independent election observation.
OSCE ODIHR denied any involvement in Russian training sessions for observers due to unjustified restrictions in size of the OSCE ODIHR mission by the Russian government.
It bears reminding that Golos experienced similar provocations during the All-Russian Voting on constitutional amendments in 2020. On daily basis, sham movies followed the same scheme; launched on Telegram channels, they would feature actors presented as Golos members. Followed by statements of officials, and replicated by federal media and the CEC Russia, the campaign lasted several days.
For another time, the project Map of Violations is under information attack, too. Each campaign is marked by statements from members of the Public Chamber of Russia, the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, and electoral commissions, that 92% of notifications on the Map of Violations are ‘fake’. However, the Public Chamber has never shared materials of their inspections. Sent by Golos in 2018 and 2020, formal requests to the Public Chamber and electoral commissions remained without an answer.
Circulated by the federal TV stations, lies about Golos are also sold as truth by officials of electoral commissions. For example, the Chairperson of CEC Russia claims that CEC has allegedly provided Golos with rebuttals, yet Golos does not publish them, since it does not control the Map of Violations:
“When we give the presumed owners of the Map of Violations official information asking to correct their false publications, they cannot do it. Because, guess where their server is? Their well-protected server is in California”.
In another example, a sham movie imitating the Golos training session was screened during the press conference of Leningrad Oblast Electoral Commission in TASS on 14 September, as a credible evidence of provocations being staged by Golos.
Always training observation participants for adherence to law and constructive cooperation with the electoral commissions, the movement Golos has never called and is not calling for any provocations. Golos reiterates that it follows universal international standards of elections and fully complies with the political neutrality as a basic prerequisite of independent and impartial election observation. We are guided by the constitutional principle that the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of power in Russia shall be its multinational people, while the referendum and free elections serve as the supreme direct expression of the people’s will.
We ask the Prosecutor General’s Office, bodies of the Ministry of Interior of Russia and the Investigative Committee of Russia to make an enquiry into cases of spreading deliberately falsified information that undermines the reputation of the movement Golos and denigrates the honour and dignity of its members (Article 128.1 of the Criminal Code of Russia) by federal media, and to pursue investigation and identify actual participants and actors in the sham movies who pretend to be members of the movement Golos.