In the run up to the Russian presidential elections on 4 March, the independent election monitoring organization GOLOS has reported renewed harassment from the Russian authorities.
Andreas Schockenhoff, Coordinator of German-Russian Intersocietal Cooperation, issued the following statement in Berlin today (26 January):
“I’m deeply concerned by the reports on renewed harassment of GOLOS, the independent Russian association for the protection of voters’ rights.
Following irregularities at the recent Duma elections, the Russian leadership announced it would ensure that there would be no anomalies during the presidential elections. The election monitoring by GOLOS is very useful in this respect. It is therefore hard to understand why GOLOS has been given notice to vacate its premises in Moscow before its lease expires and why renewed pressure is being exerted on the regional offices of its magazine.
Free and independent election observation is one of the core elements of European and international democratic standards. Russia is obliged to uphold these standards by its membership of international organizations such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Although it is a good sign that it has been possible for the OSCE/ODIHR to observe the presidential elections, the measures taken again GOLOS give rise to doubts as to whether the Russian leadership really is interested in ensuring that the elections are not marred by irregularities.
Only through transparent elections can the Russian leadership tackle the growing alienation between state and society. Dialogue with civil society is essential for building up new trust. To this end, it is important that civil society players are not further discredited. Rather they must be acknowledged as partners of the state.”