NDI urges Russian authorities to put a stop to the harassment now facing Golos, an independent, nonpartisan citizen election monitoring group.
In the run up to Russia's parliamentary elections on Sunday, Dec. 4, Golos activists in the regions have been facing intense pressure from authorities, including threats of lost jobs and violence, to abandon their plans to observe the elections.
A series of disturbing events in Moscow in recent days — including an administrative fine, the seizure of files, attacks on the Golos website, spurious media reports, and calls from State Duma deputies to close the organization — appear intended to further intimidate Golos' 3,000 activists. These incidents could have the effect of preventing Russian citizens from pursuing their lawful rights to monitor elections, while denying Russian voters valuable information about the elections.
"Citizen election monitoring should be viewed as a resource to governments, not as a threat," said NDI President Kenneth Wollack. "It lends credibility to legitimate procedures and outcomes. It is by now a widely-accepted practice globally."
Citizens who monitor and report on election procedures are exercising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of association and right to seek, receive and impart information, as well as the right to participate in government and public affairs, that are guaranteed under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a party. Further, as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia has committed in the OSCE's Copenhagen Document to allow election observation, both domestic and international.
The Russian government should actively defend the right of Russian citizens, including those from Golos, to monitor on Sunday and at all future elections without further interference.
NDI has proudly partnered with Golos since its founding, along with groups from more than 60 countries in the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM). Golos is a member of GNDEM.
Published Dec. 3, 2011