GOLOS: Press Release 5 March statement
On 5 March during its press conference at the Independent Press Center, GOLOS Association stated, “The Elections of the President of the Russian Federation were not free and fair, and did not meet the requirements imposed by Russian legislation and international electoral standards.”
The experts concluded that, “The electoral campaign for the 2012 Russian presidential elections was characterized by several features that distinguished it from that of the parliamentary elections.”
First, whereas United Russia previously served as the object at the center of the mass-media campaign, the focus has been shifted to the government under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. The main candidate deliberately distanced himself from the party, albeit remaining its leader. He presented himself as leader of the nation, and based his campaign on the All-Russian People’s Front, which was established last summer.
Second, the campaign was marked by the “struggle for fair elections and liberalization of the political system,” which was the government’s reaction to the civil protests that followed the parliamentary elections. Toward this end, it was announced that several radical reforms would be introduced for regional party development and elections. Furthermore, the government has undertaken costly efforts to equip almost all polling stations with security cameras. Thus, promises of fair elections and political reform supplemented the traditional campaign methods of extolling the achievements of the current administration and proposing decisions on financial government assistance for various groups of people.
Third, there was a notable decrease in campaigning on the part of local officials: campaign activities were carried out with greater caution, and with more fear of publicity and public scandals. There was no pronounced impact on the campaign of law enforcement agencies.
Nonetheless, the presidential campaign bore the traditional features of a Russian election, such as the use of office and official position by one of the candidates, who led the federal government throughout the campaign and who benefitted enormously from campaigning disguised as news. Thus, statements about striving for fair elections were exclusive to Election Day and the counting process. Still, judging from reports submitted to the Map of Electoral Violations, there was evidence at the local levels of preparations to distort the will of voters, which intensified as Election Day approached.
You can access the full statement of the text on GOLOS Association’s website