President Vladimir Putin has spoken against initiatives aimed at limiting the participation of new, small, political parties in Russia’s federal elections. “I don’t want to introduce any regulations that would restrict citizens’ access to ruling the country,” Putin stated at the meeting with the leaders of Russian parliamentary factions on Wednesday. During the gathering, the leaders of the Communist and Liberal-Democrat parties suggested that additional requirements should be met by political parties taking part in State Duma and presidential elections.
Articles about voting issues in the Russian Federation.
Election watchdog Golos has become the first non-governmental organisation (NGO) to be fined in Russia under a controversial new law. A Moscow court ruled Golos had failed to declare itself as a “foreign agent” after receiving funds from abroad after the law took effect in November. It was fined the sum of 300,000 roubles (£6,200; $9,500; 6,300 euros). The NGO said it had returned the money – a prize for its human rights work – as soon as it entered its account. It also denied being involved in political activity. It says it will appeal against the verdict. Golos, which received assistance in the past from the US government development agency USAID, insists it no longer accepts foreign funding. Now in its 13th year, the NGO did much to expose fraud at the 2011 parliamentary election, when it charted abuses across Russia, notably through its online “map of violations”.
Russian Constitutional Court has confirmed that ordinary citizens can contest election results, but specified that this only concerns the particular constituencies in which they cast their votes. The top Russian court on Monday announced the decision of a major check into the Procedural Code and the federal laws concerning the elections and the guarantees of the voters’ rights. The move was prompted by an address from the plenipotentiary for Human Rights Vladimir Lukin of the Voronezh city branch of the opposition party Fair Russia, and also a group of citizens from the Voronezh Region and St. Petersburg city.
Russia’s lower house has approved the first reading of a bill returning independent constituencies to the federal parliamentary polls. The bill drafted by the presidential administration in line with Vladimir Putin’s 2012 address to the parliament in which the Russian leader pledged personal support to the move suggested by politicians and political experts . It was passed in the first reading by 296 against 148 with one abstention.
Russian election monitoring group Golos (Voice) on Wednesday slammed the authorities for trying to halt its work after the justice ministry launched a court case accusing it of failing to declare itself as a “foreign agent” with international funding. ”This is total lawlessness. They have given an instruction not to let us cover elections,” the group’s executive director Lilia Shibanova told AFP, vowing to fight back and possibly even countersue the ministry. The group, which has claimed mass falsifications in parliamentary and presidential polls won by Vladimir Putin, is accused of “carrying out the functions of a foreign agent” and failing to register. The case is seen as the first test of a law passed by parliament last year obliging foreign-funded NGOs to register as a “foreign agent” and widely criticised as a throwback to the Soviet past.
The federal Justice Ministry opened a legal case on Tuesday against Russia’s only independent election monitoring organization, charging that the group, Golos, and its executive director had violated a controversial new law by failing to register as a “foreign agent.” The ministry’s action came a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany publicly chastised Russia over its intimidating treatment of nongovernmental organizations, including a series of recent raids. Ms.Merkel was the first Western leader to challenge President Vladmir V. Putin of Russia on the issue. She made her comments at a news conference in Hanover, Germany where the leaders toured a trade fair. The new law, which requires nonprofit groups that receive financing from abroad to register as foreign agents, was among the most provocative in a passel of Kremlin-supported legislation in recent months that was aimed at tightening restrictions and limiting foreign influence on nonprofit groups.
Russian authorities have filed a legal case against an election watchdog, accusing it of failing to declare itself a “foreign agent”. The group, Golos, is the first non-governmental organisation targeted under a new law requiring such groups that receive financial aid from abroad to register as foreign agents. The law was passed after mass protests against President Vladimir Putin. Golos said it would fight to prove its innocence. In recent weeks, more than 100 civil society and human rights groups across Russia have been subjected to inspections by prosecutors and tax officials in connection with the law.
Vladimir Putin has submitted legislation to change the way the Russian parliament is elected, a move he says will advance democracy but critics say is aimed at bolstering his United Russia party. The bill calls for half of the 450 seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, to be filled by voters choosing individual candidates in districts. Currently all seats are filled by voting for parties. The legislation is expected to pass. The United Russia party, loyal to Putin, has a majority in parliament despite losing seats in the December 2011 election that set off the biggest protests of his 13-year rule.
The Kremlin said on March 13 that the author of a report that claims the ruling United Russia party actually lost the 2011 elections to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation thanks to fraud needs “psychiatric help.” The report is surprising and extremely embarrassing, as its conclusions are not in dispute: it is widely accepted that the Duma elections were fixed, which engendered the widely publicized protests in December that year. And it is surprising because the institute, the Governance and Problem Analysis Center (GPAC), is a state-run body that is chaired by state-owned Russian Railways (RZhD) and by its CEO Vladimir Yakunin. While it is highly unlikely that this is a political play by Yakunin to embarrass his masters in the Kremlin — Yakhnin is a consummate politician and former ambassador to the EU — it is interesting that a prestigious state controlled institution has had the shariki to come out with this sort of claim in public. The deputy head of United Russia’s executive committee, Konstantin Mazurevsky, said in a statement on his party’s website that Sulakshin’s report was based on data “snatched out of thin air.” And a senior Russian Railways representative told Interfax that Yakunin, a Putin loyalist, had nothing to do with the report and said his boss could give up his role at the think tank in light of its conclusions.
A new bill on the State Duma elections is expected to impose further restrictions to the work of international observers during Russian parliamentary campaigns. The bill would also prohibit Russian parties from forming electoral blocs and, at the same time, reduce the threshold for parties running in the elections from 7 to 5 percent. Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a new version of a bill on parliamentary elections to the State Duma on Friday, a spokesman for the chamber’s executive office told Interfax. The bill, drafted by the Central Elections Committee, was widely debated and discussed, including by parliamentarians and members of political parties not represented in the State Duma. The bill on the State Duma elections prohibits foreign citizens and international organizations from influencing the election outcome in Russia in any form. ”Activities by foreign citizens, stateless persons, foreign organizations, international organizations and international public movements promoting or impeding the organization of State Duma elections, the nomination or registration of specific candidates, federal lists of candidates, and the election of candidates to the State Duma are prohibited,” the draft law submitted by the Russian president to the State Duma on Friday says.