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ReportOur AssessmentRussian Federation18 March 2024, 10:14
Collage: Ksenia Telmanova

General overview

The Golos Movement has been monitoring the compliance of voting with the international and Russian standards of free expression of will; the monitoring is based on the data provided by voters, organizers of voting, observers and media representatives from the country’s regions through various channels, including the 8 800 500-54-62 hotline, the Map of Violations, mass media, the Internet, social media, and messengers.

The Golos Movement received 156 hotline calls and 341 messages sent via the Map of Violations and other digital communication channels on March 17 as of 22:00 Moscow time.

In total, during the election period, the hotline has received 321 calls, and the Map of Violations and other digital channels have received 1,631 reports.

On March 17, the top five regions reporting alleged violations through the Map of Violations were:

  1. Moscow — 88
  2. St. Petersburg — 59
  3. Krasnodar Krai — 32
  4. Moscow Oblast — 23
  5. Samara Oblast — 23.

In total, during the election campaign, the regions reporting most to the Map of Violations were:

  1. Moscow — 197
  2. St. Petersburg — 162
  3. Krasnodar Krai — 123 
  4. Ryazan Oblast — 120
  5. Moscow Oblast — 114.

Principal trends of the voting day(s)

Mobilizing voters

On the last day of voting, reports continue to be received about control of voter turnout from the public sector. In Moscow, a specially developed bot called “Dobrynya” is used for this. With its help, personal data is collected, DEGs and voting at polling stations are monitored, and the user’s ID and personal data are recorded. Reports provide convincing evidence that budget and near-budget organizations in Moscow receive information about which employees voted through the DEG. Organizations are asked for insufficient employee activity and send lists of those who voted to management. So the Moscow DEG is an active tool for forcing employees of budgetary and budget-dependent organizations to participate in voting.

As always, there have been reports that for off-site voting, election commissions use lists provided by social security officials instead of statements from voters themselves. The hope of increasing turnout in this way is not always justified. Thus, in the Altai Territory, commission members involved in organizing home-based voting complain that only one out of four voters from such a list agrees to make their choice.

In the Yeravninsky district of Buryatia, workers of the Ozerny Mining and Processing Plant were brought in an organized manner on a service bus to vote. People entered the PEC in their overalls.

Prize drawings continue in the regions. In the Kurgan festival quiz with the ambiguous name “GDP” - “Spring Has Come to the Family”, the winners will receive smartphones, scooters, cars, household appliances and the main trophy - an apartment. An example of the use of such events as a tool for monitoring turnout is a report from the Krasnoyarsk Territory: there, voters are required to provide a participation form at their place of work.

In the Irkutsk region, authorities are inviting voters to the polling stations with an additional quiz with a drawing of firewood and bags of sugar. Voters are greeted in an original way, with a special ritual involving the scattering of sweets, in the village of Kirei, Altai Territory.

The Midday manifiestation “Noon against Putin”

Messages and news about arrests and pressure on voters, who have have encouraged others to come and vote in the elections at 12:00 on March 17 began to appear on the first day of voting. So, in Blagoveshchensk, because of a video with such a call, the court arrested Valeria Denisovich for five days. A blogger from the Republic of Buryatia received a warning from the prosecutor's office for the same actions. By the evening of March 16, law enforcement agencies began sending out messages to territorial commissions about the expected complication of the operational situation on the last day of voting, in which they recommended working out evacuation regimes for voters. A similar instruction on the occasion of the action was sent to lower levels by the Election Commission of the Sverdlovsk Region.

However, at noon on March 17, queues of voters lined up at some polling stations in Novosibirsk. News came from Yekaterinburg and Perm about the influx of voters at this time; photos and videos of the crowds were published by the media and telegram channels of St. Petersburg and Moscow. To a large extent, the formation of queues was facilitated by searches of personal belongings of voters organized at the entrances to polling stations. Meanwhile, the media calculated how long, on average, Russians wishing to vote waited in lines in different countries: they had to wait the longest in Almaty and Haifa, where, by the way, not everyone had time to vote before the polling station closed.

In Kazan, there were arrests at polling stations, which can be considered as direct obstruction of the exercise of citizens' electoral rights, committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy and using their official position - an act that entails punishment under Article 141 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Three voters were also detained in Volgograd on the way to the polling station. But at the polling stations in Irkutsk, directly during the action, the authorities organized a Maslenitsa celebration.

Anomalies and discrepancies in turnout

The discrepancy in turnout between leading regions and the regions with the lowest turnout  was almost twofold. In the first case - more than 90%, in the second - barely above 50%. Such a colossal difference is inexplicable and unnatural.

Electoral experts report anomalies identified as a result of the analysis of CEC data that may indicate signs of fraud. In several regions, turnout at all polling stations is artificial, forming around one very close value in each reporting period. An example is TEC No. 23 of St. Petersburg, where by the end of the second day almost the same number of voters voted at 10 polling stations - about 62%. Among the regions with pronounced anomalies are also the Republic of Dagestan and the Kemerovo region. In addition, journalists learned that in Stary Oskol on the first day of voting, all 136 polling stations reported the same turnout of 47%.

Signs of falsifications and mass stuffing

A voter from the Shalinsky district of the Chechen Republic reported a case of forced falsification on the “Map of Violations.” The territorial commission organized here the so-called carousel voting, during which the voter had to vote several times each of three days at different polling stations, ensuring both turnout and the desired result.

In the Seversky district of the Krasnodar Territory, in the village of Grigorievskaya, member of PEC No. 4116 Ilya Kiyutin discovered ballot stuffing. A complaint was filed regarding the stuffing and a statement was written to the police. In Udmurtia, the school director published a photograph of the voting room at PEC No. 717 and on the photo a stack of ballots was visible in a stationary box. After attention was drawn to the stack of ballots, the photo was deleted. In Saratov, a member of PEC No. 194 from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation noticed ballot box stuffing carried out by his colleague.

Violence at polling stations, mass arrests and other violations of voter rights

In Chisinau, a man threw a Molotov cocktail at the Russian Embassy, where voting was taking place in the presidential election.

At PEC No. 162 in Barnaul, a local resident tried to tear the voter book and was detained. In Krasnodar, a 13-year-old schoolgirl set fire to a tablecloth at polling station No. 2138. The polling station is located at the school where the girl studies. In Perm, a 64-year-old woman brought a large firecracker to a polling station located in the Soldatov Palace of Culture and blew it up. As a result, she was hospitalized, and 50 people were evacuated from the building.

 In Moscow, a voter was detained at a polling station for laying flowers at a monument to victims of political repression in February, and at another polling station for writing an anti-war slogan on a ballot. At polling station No. 945 in Cherepovets, a voter was detained for trying to take away a ballot. Reports of arrests of human rights activists near polling stations came from Ryazan. A certain extremist note became the reason for the detention of a voter in Novokuibyshevsk. A report was drawn up against a resident of St. Petersburg, Alexandra Chiryatieva, under an article about discrediting the army because of a phrase written to her on a ballot. Voter Karina Gradusova from Kolomna near Moscow was detained along with her one-and-a-half-year-old child after the baby left inscriptions on a ballot paper. In Ufa, at polling station No. 342, voter Bulat Khalikov was detained for trying to throw a photo of Alexei Navalny into the ballot box.

In total, 74 people have already been detained in 17 cities during the presidential elections in Russia. The largest number of detainees - 29 people - were in Kazan. In addition, according to OVD-Info, 19 people were detained in Moscow, seven in St. Petersburg, three people each in Volgograd, Chelyabinsk and Ryazan, one person each in Petrozavodsk, Ufa, Barnaul, Balakovo, Kostroma, Novokuibyshevsk, Cherepovets, Serpukhov, Kolomna, Kirov and Irkutsk.

From Odintsovo and Pushkino, polling station No. 2019 reported a flagrant violation of the secrecy of voting by police officers who checked the will of voters by examining their ballots. A completely unthinkable situation occurred in Bratsk, where voter Alexander Shokhirev was detained and beaten, threatening to cut off a finger. The reason was an incorrect vote.

Obstruction of public control of elections

Based on the results of all three days of voting, one cannot fail to note such an important difference between the current presidential elections and previous ones as the sharp increase in pressure on voting members of precinct election commissions. Previously, independent observers, media representatives and members of commissions with advisory voting rights mostly suffered from such manifestations as suspension from work and removal from PECs. It is obvious that after the abolition of the status of the latter, the process of purging conscientious and honest workers within the ranks of the system of the electoral bodies themselves began.

On the night of March 17, the court granted the claim of PEC No. 2133 for the immediate removal from work of Denis Varlamov, a voting member of the commission. The young man was accused of illegal photo and video filming in the polling station. Also in the morning it became known that in Kaliningrad, after the end of the second day of voting, security forces detained and took to a psychiatric hospital a voting member of the electoral commission, Olga Nedvetskaya. The girl managed to inform her friend that she would be hospitalized. In Balakovo, Saratov region, at polling station No. 510, observer Damir Khisyametdinov was detained for talking about special military operation. In St. Petersburg, the court suspended from work a member of PEC No. 1615 from Just Russia. Incidents with the removal of commission members from Yabloko and Just Russia also occurred at polling stations No. 1616, No. 1617 and No. 1646 in the Petrogradsky district of the city.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation continued its practice of recalling observers. This time, an application for termination of their powers at PECs No. 3333 and No. 3337 was submitted to the TEC in Shatura near Moscow. In Moscow, on the basis of the party’s recall, Alina Skorodelova, an observer at PEC No. 2872, was also removed, and then at PEC No. 452, Anna Kosolapova. In Kurgan, in the daytime, all observers sent by the Public Chamber and proxies of candidate Vladimir Putin were again removed from the polling stations.

Irregularities during vote counting procedures

Observers from the cities of Pushkino and Mytishchi, Moscow Region, report massive violations of their rights during the vote counting procedure. Their movement is restricted, they are refused to see voter lists, and they are prohibited from recording the procedure in photos and videos.

At PEC No. 2627 in Moscow, commission members did not announce the names of the candidates who received votes and did not show marks on the ballots. After one of the observers present appealed to the members of the PEC with a request to comply with the procedure, the commission called the police with the intention of removing him.

At one of the polling stations in Stary Oskol, Belgorod region, ballots with marks for Vladislav Davankov, as well as with any additional inscriptions, were considered spoiled.

In Kurgan, at polling station No. 960, the observer was refused a copy of the protocol, and was asked to come for it on Monday. PEC No. 4211 in Tambov did not allow the observer to familiarize himself with the voter lists; a complaint was filed.

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