Gernot Erler, Special Representative of the Federal Government for the OSCE Chairmanship and Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries, issued the following statement today (7 September) on the Russian Ministry of Justice's listing of the Levada Centre research and polling institute as a “foreign agent”:
We are following news of the Levada Centre's listing as a “foreign agent” closely and with great concern. The fact that this independent and internationally renowned organisation is being stigmatised in this way must trigger criticism.
Particularly in the run-up to the Duma elections on 18 September, it is imperative that the building of political will in Russia be supported through freedom of opinion, of assembly and of the press, rather than that pluralism and transparency be curtailed.
I expect the preparations for and running of the elections to be free and fair and critical voices to be allowed to be heard.
The Federal Government supports the election observation mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Election observation by ODIHR is an important instrument of independent international election observation. It cannot, however, replace monitoring by national organisations.