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The Council of Europe Shouldn't Ignore Liquidation of Institute of Democratic Elections in Russia

The Council of Europe Shouldn't Ignore Liquidation of Institute of Democratic Elections in Russia

Open message of the Human Rights Council of Russia to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe


All member countries of the Council of Europe are obliged to carry out officially taken by them obligations on maintenance of human rights of citizens, to adhere to base principles of democratic society. The right to participate in management of his country by way of free elections is among the number of basic principles. This right is fixed in the documents of the United Nations ratified by Russia, OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States. "The higher direct expression of the power of people are referendum and free elections" - is written down also in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.


We are compelled to ascertain that condition of institute of elections in Russia as a whole doesn't correspond now to the international obligations, even to the national legislation.


First of all, it is connected with condition of the party system which for last 10 years has undergone forced reduction and has degenerated into artificial formation not representing to the full spectrum of ideological and social interests of the population of our country. It explains the fact that already now, at the very beginning of election campaign it is impossible to call current federal elections either free, or fair.


Intensive degradation of the elective legislation contradicts principles of free and fair elections. Besides entering of numerous regressive amendments into laws on elections, there were changes introduced even into the Constitution of RF referring to the terms of appointment of the President and the State Duma.


As to the elective process itself, it is possible to ascertain final fracture of institute of democratic elections in Russia, it happens at direct participation and approval of all levels of the government. The following facts which we want politicians and public opinion of countries entering the Council of Europe to know made us to come to such conclusion.


The first. The whole variety of oppositional parties are forbidden in the Russian Federation to get registered and thus in the right to participate in elections and access to the basic mass-media. It happens in spite of the fact that their programs and charters contain priorities of democratic society. Thus, "The Other Russia", "Party of Popular Freedom" and "ROT-FRONT" and other received refusal. Despite the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on recognition of the decisions on liquidation of oppositional "Republican Party of Russia" illegal this decision isn't cancelled by the authorities.

The second. Active participation of supervising persons of Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation in real revolution in the party "Right Cause" which ended in exile of Michael Prokhorov and his supporters became bright example of inconsiderate intervention of the authorities into political process.

The third. There's obvious censorship on the central channels of television and other types of the central mass-media, as a result of it, in particular, we can see there representatives of only those parties which are approved by the power. It is authentically known that there are so-called "stop lists" for mass-media in which all leaders of nonparliamentary, that is real opposition are written. In such conditions information field is blocked for opposition almost completely. Mass-media directly or implicitly supervised by the state conduct propagation in support of "party in power" and chase opposition, first of all, liberal one.

The fourth. Municipal elections which took place recently in St-Petersburg are scandalous example of destruction of institute of democratic elections in Russia. The mere character of their carrying out in connection with Valentina Matvienko's "advancement" as Chairmen of the Council of Federation visually showed today's readiness of the authorities to forge elections in unprecedented scales.

Here you are only some infringements during elections in St.-Petersburg. Opposition learned about the date of elections post factum and consequently couldn't put forward its candidates. Every propaganda but for propaganda for Valentina Matvienko was stopped with rough infringements of law - in particular Boris Nemtsov was detained in the course of propaganda action against all candidates, by the way it's permitted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The fact that inhabitants of several houses where Nemtsov carried out his campaign were excluded from the list of voters is absolutely funny example showing degree of readiness of the power to illegal actions.

The Russian elections satisfy only a part of the international elective standards. As a whole they satisfy principles of generality, periodicity, equality of voices and, substantially, secret of voting.

However other major principles formulated, in particular, in the Document of the Copenhagen meeting of the Conference on Human Dimension of CSCE are defied, it is said in it that the states-participants:

- are obliged to respect the right of separate persons and groups of persons to create their political parties in conditions of full freedom (in Russia several oppositional parties are not allowed to register which means also to participate in elections, it happens despite the fact that their programs and charters start from the priorities of democratic society; authorities actively interfere with questions of internal life of parties);

- provide that the law and a state policy allow to carry out political campaigns in atmosphere of freedom and honesty, that no legal or administrative barriers were put to unimpeded access to mass media on not discrimination basis for all political groups and separate persons wishing to take part in the elective process,

- provide absence of falsification in the process of counting of votes; provide possibility of supervision, both national and international.

At carrying out of the Russian elections these principles are being regularly broken. Judicial and elective systems of Russia don't interfere with these infringements.

To oblige today's Russian power to return to frameworks of the international standards of elections means to prevent the large-scale civil conflict in Russia in the future.

Therefore we urge to direct to Russia observers to whom Human Rights Council of Russia is ready to render help and recommendations.

We address the Chairman of PACE, Monitoring, Political and Legal Committees of PACE, to rapporteurs of Monitoring across Russia, to deputies and political groups of PACE with appeal to take into consideration information on actual liquidation of institute of democratic elections in the Russian Federation which is contained in our message, to discuss non-fulfillment of obligations on carrying out of free elections by the Russian Federation and to address Venice Commission for carrying out of check of the elective legislation and the law on political parties in Russia.

Lyudmila Alekseeva, Chairman of Moscow Helsinki Group

Valery Borschev, member of Moscow Helsinki Group

Yury Vdovin, Human Rights Organization of "Civil Control"

Svetlana Gannushkina, Charity Committee «Civil Assistance"

Boris Zolotukhin, member of Moscow Helsinki Group

Sergey Kovalev, Fund named after Andrey Sakharov

Oleg Orlov, Chairman of Human Rights Centre "Memorial"

Lev Ponomarev, "For Human Rights" movement

Yury Shmidt, lawyer, Human Rights Council in Saint-Petersburg

Priest Greb Yakunin, Protection of Freedom of Conscience Committee, member of Moscow Helsinki Group

From editorial board: Certainly, message of legal experts to the Council of Europe is timely and substantial and it is necessary to support it completely. However for now there's no possibility to support it. Certainly, listed above signers are known (may be they are even better known in Europe than in Russia) in the past but today they don't represent live political process in the Russian Federation.


Why the Council of Europe will listen to them, not to someone else? Political forces deprived of possibility to participate in the Russian elections are much more numerous, than 3 parties listed in the message (others are kindly noted as "and others") and the number of appreciable public figures categorically not concordant with system of "elections" which has developed in the Russian Federation is much more than dozen of honourable legal experts. For some reason only separate representatives of the Russian society address the Council of Europe, it somehow depreciates the reference. It is thought, the list of signers should be much wider and more various on its political spectrum, otherwise there's an impression that the rights of only one political party are suppressed in Russia - or only liberal public isn't happy with existing state of affairs, while the rest are at least indifferent.


In Russia there is inequality in access to legal policy but it turns out so that public negation of this policy - is also destiny of the elite. If so, whether it is necessary to change one inequality for other?


This narrow representation results in the requirements to the Council of Europe which in essence also do not reflect real requirements of the majority. Requirements of addressees of grants to the employers. Very correct but not so convincing.


Let's say, what does it have to do with falsification on "the elections" participation in which is limited for approximately 98% of citizens of the country having the right to vote? If the majority of citizens should care if "United Russia" will deceive misters Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky? The majority of citizens would like to see in lists and then, naturally, in the parliament absolutely other people. If citizens care who will win in "pool", if citizens don't participate in the game?


Appeal to the power operating in Russia to return somewhere, to some principals and so on is the same way disputable. The majority of citizens has absolutely other offers to the power, maybe, not so politically correct. Citizens are not so much frightened by civil conflict as there's no other way to change power in the country. Civil conflict is already taking place, may be someone hasn't noticed it.


Boycott of fictitious elective procedures - one of the displays of this conflict. There are for now no other ways to change situation though it's probably right thing to address the Council of Europe and to warn it about the development of the situation. Let them know...


Facing certain death welcome you, the Council of Europe!


Anatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief of FORUM.msk 

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