Russian authorities on July 7 searched the Moscow office of the Golos Association, the country’s leading election-monitoring organization, and the homes of four Golos members, Human Rights Watch reports. The searches appeared to be part of a broader government crackdown on the independent monitoring group. Criminal investigators searched the apartments of Grigory Melkonyants and Roman Udot, co-chairs of Golos; Tatyana Troinova, the executive director; and Valentina Denisenko, a former staff member. Later that day, investigators searched the Moscow office.
Authorities said that the searches were linked to criminal proceedings for alleged tax evasion that began in February against Ludmila Kuzmina, head of the Golos regional branch in Samara. Kuzmina denies the charges and has said the investigation is designed to intimidate her. Golos has campaigned to support Kuzmina, calling the prosecution political.
“Elections should be free and fair, and that is what organizations like Golos are committed to ensure” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government shouldn’t be trying to hamper election watchdog groups and intimidate their employees.”
Full Article: Russia Cracks Down on Moscow Election Monitors.