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Statement20 September 2021, 07:18
Коллаж: Ксения Тельманова

Main trends of the day

  • Massive infringements on rights of observers, commission members and candidates continue in some regions, sometimes marked with violence or threats. Throughout all three days, the problem is not addressed systematically, in a stark contrast with federal elections of 2016 and 2018, when CEC Russia monitored the rights of public monitors and candidates’ proxies closely. 
  • More notifications arrive on fraud and proxy voting. The multi-day voting expanded possibilities for this kind of violations significantly, due to commission’s incompliance with procedures to ensure safety of electoral documents in the night. Moreover, electoral commissions in some regions stress their impunity by breeching procedures openly. 
  • Home voting is the theme of most complaints, a traditional problem of Russian elections. The issue is about both commissions’ lack of respect of home voting procedures and interference of unauthorised persons (usually administrations) in the process. 

Lawlessness and growth of aggression 

Between 0am and 3pm on 19 September, Moscow time, Golos received 185 messages about violations of rights of observers, commission members and media, and threats to life, health and property. While such notifications came from 28 regions and from some polling stations beyond Russia, three-quarters of them originate from just seven regions: Moscow City, Moscow Oblast, Saint Petersburg, Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan. 

In a number of cases, these violations were marked by aggression, sometimes against members of commissions with full voting status. For example, a chairperson of PEC#49 in Krasnoselsky District of Moscow, Vagif Tarverdiyev, snatched out a phone from a commission member Kseniya Matalina’s hands. Previously, he would keep her out of the polling station, report her to TEC for ‘obstructing the commission’, and threaten in a phone conversation to ‘snuff her out altogether’, told Matalina to Dozhd*. A notification on the Map of Violations shows that this precinct has over a thousand voters temporarily attached to it ‘by domicile’. 

Reportedly, the chairperson of PEC#2271 in Prikubansky District of Krasnodar, Larisa Sidorova, attacked a Yabloko candidate Kirill Guryev. She pushed Guryev as he was checking the list of home-voters, snatched the sheets out and even partly tore some of them. 

A member of the PEC#167 with a consultative vote in Saint Petersburg was not allowed to check the book of voters or even put a signature for receiving a ballot sheet as a voter (effectively preventing her from voting). When she called the police, the chairperson did so, too; he accused the commissioner of snatching books out of his hands. 

Police officers are also used to counteract observers. The police escorted commission members with a right of consultative vote Danis Usmanov and Oleg Shatin from PEC#409 in Kazan, allegedly because they had committed an administrative offence. While Usmanov was let go soon, Shatin was taken away from the polling station to some room, from where shouting was heard. The information about the incident was published on the Map of Violations. Another case of police-assisted expulsion of a PEC member with the right of a consultative vote was reported in Zavolzhsky District of Tver. 

FSB did not allow a Yabloko-delegated member of the Electoral Commission of Moscow Oblast with a right of consultative vote to enter the town of Krasnoznamensk, reported the party’s headquarters.

Observers from Astrakhan Oblast informed that unknown persons escorted a commission member of PEC#1422 out to the street and laid hold of his clothes. He had previously requested the chairperson to show some documents. The man left after the ‘conversation’; reportedly, he has two small children. 

According to Yabloko, physical and psychological pressure is reported in Moscow Oblast against observers and commission members who revealed and documented violations. In particular, members of PECs #1435 and #1438 with a right of consultative vote Dmitry Klimov and Alexander Filippov were threatened with mopping-up. 

In Moscow, a member of PEC#1550 with a deciding vote was expelled for drinking energy drink Red Bull.

According to observers, the chairperson of PEC#1629 in Tekstilshchiki (Moscow) told them: «I appoint you to a place at the polling station from where you cannot move freely. You are not allowed to stand near the ballot box. Here are your places. Even if you are an observer with a right of consultative vote, it is my decision if you can move». A photo shows that the observers were assigned a place on the opposite side from the ballot boxes. A member of PEC#10 in Saint Petersburg Sergey Molchanov prohibited members of PEC#234 with a right of consultative vote from seeing the list of voters and claimed that his position description was above the federal law. 

In Saint Petersburg, the chairperson tried to force members of PEC#487 with a right of consultative vote to hang and distribute leaflets on the voting day, 19 September, stating that this was their duty. 

Coronavirus is also used as an excuse to restrict rights of observers. On 18 September, observers and PEC members with a right of consultative vote in Oktyabrsky District of Ufa were not allowed to approach safe packages, demanding social distancing of 1.5 meters. As a result, they never saw the side of the package with an attached note; no one signed the package, including the commission members with deciding votes. «The deputy chairperson clasped and cuddled the safe package so that nobody could see the note, and ran to another room», — indicates the notification on the Map of Violations. In Lyubertsy, Moscow Oblast, the chairperson of PEC#1558 also suggested that observers checked the book of voters from her hands, 1.5 meters apart. The chairperson of PEC#454 in Saint Petersburg, Nadezhda Leunina, showed observers the list of voters from meters away, flipping through it quickly.

Foreign territories continue sending notifications about assumed cancellations of authorisation letters from Yabloko. With a reference to some ‘message from Moscow’, the chairperson of PEC#8086 in Arad, Israel, denied access to the polling station. In Rishon LeZion, Israel, the chairperson of PEC#8093 referred to a refusal of the Rostov Oblast Electoral Commission to accept the lists of Yabloko observers. However, the secretary of this commission Svetlana Dragomirova denied this information. Yabloko lists were submitted via CEC Russia. 

A member of PEC#1562 in Vasilyevo, Zelenodolsk Rayon of Tatarstan, reported that several home-voting groups operated simultaneously. Notably, groups do not allow observers to follow and bring in hundreds of ballot sheets. 

In Novorossiysk and Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai, New People’s candidate Yevgeny Kapustin withdrew his observers from polling stations, reported SOTA Telegram channel, adding a scan of the order issued by one of the TEC chairpersons. 

In Bashkortostan, a member of the Human Rights Council under the head of the republic, Dinar Zaynullin, demanded to expel all Yabloko observers from polling stations, arguing that Yabloko had delegated foreign agents.

«I noticed that too many observers were delegated by Yabloko party, — he told news agency Bashinform, — although we know that this is a small party with no massive funds. I found out from Albert Khusainov, the head of the regional branch, that he had issued many authorisation letters to activists of movement Golos and ‘navalnists’. I asked him why he did it, since these are foreign agents and can cause legal problems. I asked prosecutors to interfere and disqualify Yabloko observers through court action. We have no time to figure out who of them are normal people and who are activists whose goal might be to stage provocations». 

Indications of fraud, multiple voting, and proxy voting

Throughout 19 September, notifications of ballot box stuffing continue to arrive. They are characteristic of the same regions as on Saturday. 

In particular, Yabloko party reports a new case of stuffing in Balashikha, Moscow Oblast, PEC#22. On a pretext of room sanitation, commission members removed all observers from the polling station. In the meanwhile, a commission member with the deciding vote Natalya Leonidovna Deyeva, a teacher of music, covered herself with a hood and cast multiple ballot sheets into the box. Offence report was filed with the Investigative Committee. On Friday, stuffing incident was revealed at polling station #3667, in the same school. 

An electoral commission in Kemerovo partially cancelled ballot sheets at polling station #237 after a stuffing notification on the Map of Violations. An inspection confirmed the finding. Video recording showed a woman casting ballot sheets into a ballot box. 

Observers shared information about a case of ballot box stuffing at PEC#313 in Kazan, where ballots were placed in the box in neat piles. Video cameras look away from the ballot boxes. 

At PEC#110 in Saint Petersburg, observers reported that they had prevented a ‘carousel’. Statement for the police is filed. 

In Novozybkov, Bryansk Oblast, video control system recorded ballot box stuffing at PEC#699: a PEC member gets a signal and brings in a pile of ballot sheets under her clothes; then, two women hastily push the ballots into the box. The CEC Chairperson Ella Pamfilova told media today that previous stuffing cases in regions are under investigation. 

A member of PEC#59 in Tatarstan reports that, in his opinion, the polling station is facing an orchestrated inflow of individuals who are not real local voters, for a second day in a row. In a uniform scheme, a number of persons arrive, queue in a line, get ballot sheets at the same table, and strongly disagree to disclose their registration address. At this moment, one of the observers tries to block an independent video surveillance camera. 

At PEC#410, also in Tatarstan, an observer shared that his turnout calculation was hardly a half of official records. Home voting aside, his calculation of turnout was 246 voters on 17 September and 217 voters on 18 September. On the other hand, official figures in the federal district, home voting aside, were 482 and 411, respectively, according to notes on safe packages containing ballot sheets from the stationary ballot box on 17 and 18 September. 

Ivan Shukshin, a member of PEC#908 with a right of consultative vote in Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai, reported a possible stuffing incident at his polling station: a number of voters indicated in the records and a number of signatures on the voter list differed by about 300. A commission member with a deciding vote requested to see applications from mobile voting participants, and was turned down by the chairperson. 

After closure of the polling station #0239 in Gostogayevskaya stanitsa, Krasnodar Krai, on 18 September, ballot sheets were packed in safe packages and sealed; a number of voters who received ballot sheets indicated in the note was 1,100. However, observers and commission members with consultative vote delegated by a State Duma candidate Dmitry Kolomiyets claimed that, by 8pm the same day, only 177 voters had voted. 

Upon the revealed discrepancy, a member of Anapa Territorial Electoral Commission and a candidate proxy Rostislav Shcherbakov were called to the polling station. They filed complaints and called the police. Commission ignored the complaints. By 9.40pm, PEC members with deciding votes were staying at the polling station and working with voter lists. At 2.40am, 19 September, the video broadcasting from this polling station stopped until morning. 

When the polling station reopened in the morning, a TEC member with a right of consultative vote found sheets with last names added to voter lists. A complaint is filed with Anapa inter-rayon prosecutor on these violations. 

Proxy voting notifications are arriving. In Kirya, Republic of Chuvashia, a ballot sheet was issued on 18 September to a person who was not on a voter list; neither had he applied for a voting by domicile, not for home voting. A voter in Saint Petersburg reported that she had seen a signature in front of the last name of her neighbour and close friend, who was abroad and had not chance to vote. Commission members told that was a mistake of her mother who had voted; yet, exactly the same signature was put in front of the mother’s last name. 

At PEC#20 in Barnaul, someone’s signature was put in front of Yuliya Lits’s name. A PEC member with a deciding vote asked Yuliya to sign in front of another name and gave no explanations. 

Response of the electoral system to such notifications is not always adequate. For example, according to the district observer coordinator Mikhail Zelensky, on 19 September morning, polling stations of Vykhino-Zhulebino district in Moscow were ordered to report to police any voters who would claim that someone had voted for them. It happened after a voter came to the polling station #1295 and saw someone’s signature in front of his name on the list. Be reminded that unknown people came to the polling station #1295 in the night between 17 and 18 September, and observers saw in the morning that the voter list is stitched up differently than on the previous evening. A security guard told observers about the late night visit. It turned out that someone entered the voting premises after the closure of the polling station and got on the computer; the safeguard expelled the person. Later on, the chairperson of the commission came and also tried to get in; however, she was kept out by the safeguard and a major police officer who was on duty nearby. 

Notification about voter list irregularities come from Moscow and Moscow Oblast. A voter from PEC#473 in the capital city reported that, according to the voter list, another person was registered in his apartment, though this person formally moved to Moscow Oblast in 2014. While getting her ballot sheets in Korolyov, outside Moscow, a voter also found out that an unknown person was registered in her flat. An observer at PEC#1334 in Lobnya reported multiple mistakes in the voter list. By 11am 19 September, 70 out of 230 voters who had arrived (about 30%!) did not find their addresses on the lists. They were added to additional lists. The observer claims that the same situation is in the whole town. For example, an entire street is missing on the list of PEC#1318, and just several residents of a 17-stoor building at Kalinin Street 3A are on the list. While many flats feature names of non-existent people, voters have to queue in lines to be added to additional lists. 

TVK Krasnoyarsk reported an odd story: at PEC#258 in Krasnoyarsk Krai, their reader was given a ballot sheet with a vote for the United Russia. «When I started filling out, I noticed a tick mark for the United Russia. Later, I realised the ballot had neither stamp nor signature. I came to the commission and asked why they issued me a spoiled ballot. A man in the neighbouring booth had the same problem. The commission took the ballot and said that was a mistake. Then I saw a pile of ballots, and the top one was also ticked! They put my sheet to the same pile. I asked them to dispose the spoiled ballots; yet, they put them in a safe-box», — she told. The Krasnoyarsk Krai Electoral Commission did not believe the story; they thought it was a provocation. 

New notifications arrive about bizarre night activities at some PECs. In particular, unrecognized individuals were spotted in the night at PEC#1085 in Pyatigorsk. To hide themselves, they tried to block a surveillance camera with a mop. 

Home voting irregularities 

Violations of mobile voting procedures are among the most common ones. Between 0am and 3pm on 19 September, Moscow time, Golos received 82 such notifications from 25 regions; in total, 487 such messages came from 43 regions over the three voting days. 

Issues are traditional: personal data are pre-filled in the voting application; lists for applications are frequently obtained from social welfare bodies, and sometimes from unknown persons, while voters are unaware; commission do not allow observers to follow; obviously too many ballots are taken to mobile voting; home voting lists are not composed; sometimes, home voters sign no applications whatsoever, etc. 

For example, Yabloko’s Fedor Demyanchuk found out a falsified home voting list at PEC#24 in Moscow. While commission members are currently trying to obtain evidence of the crime, police is working onsite. 

In Kemerovo Oblast, a member of Guryevsk TEC Biryukova reported that she personally attended the mobile voting procedure with PEC#158 members between 12.10pm and 1:40pm, and described the developments in detail. In one case, a voter whom they were to visit was found out to be capable of driving a car; his neighbours told he had recently left. In another case, while the address on the list marked a burnt house, neighbours told that no one lived there for a long time. In the third place, the voter was found to be away to hospital, while her son told that no one had applied for home voting; moreover, his mother did not live here for years. The next voter told that he had not applied for voting, had left and just come back to Guryevsk. Another voter whom they attended told them that she, too, had not asked for home voting. The same applied to the next voter, whose family members said he was in bad condition, and they had not filed any applications. The list, however, stated that the voter had applied in person. In total, this PEC’s home voting list included 119 persons based on data from social welfare services. 

While checking the home voting list, a member of PEC#960 with a right of consultative vote in Lukhovitsy, Ryazan Oblast, found out that the field indicating the applicant is not filled. He also saw the name of his grandmother on the list; however, none of family members had applied for home voting. The field that had to show the name of a person who filed the application was empty. 

A State Duma candidate in Chelyabinsk Oblast asked prosecutors to check the fact of voter data sharing between social welfare services and the PEC. She claimed that the chairperson of PEC#814 in Chelyabinsk admitted to her that he had obtained this information and was going to call voters with a proposal to vote at home. Voters did not ask neither the electoral commission, nor the social workers about it. 

General statistics 

Golos runs short-term observation in 51 regions and at polling stations outside Russia. Elections are monitored to check compliance with general standards of free voting. The effort draws on data coming from participants and managers of the polls, observers, and media representatives. Information is collected via multiple channels, including hotline 8 800 333-33-50, The Map of Violations, media, social media, and messengers. 

On 19 September, the third day of voting (by 3pm, Moscow time), Golos received 1,215 notifications by the hotline, and 590 via the Map of Violations and other online tools. 

The top-5 of regions by the number of notifications about alleged violations on 19 September, the third voting day: 

  1. Moscow City — 119
  2. Saint Petersburg — 84
  3. Moscow Oblast — 74
  4. Krasnodar Krai — 31
  5. Bashkortostan — 29

In total over the campaign, the leading group by alleged violations is currently the following: 

  1. Moscow City — 713
  2. Moscow Oblast — 484
  3. Saint Petersburg — 371
  4. Krasnodar Krai — 282
  5. Samara Oblast — 199

*designated as a foreign agent