Press Release: Hunger Strike
An indefinite hunger strike was begun on the morning of 16 March in Astrakhan. The purpose of the action is to draw attention to acts of fraud committed during the city’s mayoral elections on 4 March. Ten people are participating in the fast. Former Astrakhan mayoral candidate and trade union leader Oleg Shein is among them. Elections in Astrakhan were marked by massive violations and acts of fraud. The hunger strikers are demanding that the results of the mayoral elections be voided. According to Oleg Shein, the decision to stage a hunger strike was made after an incident in the Regional Election Commission (REC), wherein activists attempted to submit video footage evidencing numerous electoral violations to REC Chairman Igor Korovin. In response, the chairman locked himself in his office and called the police. Police officers then removed the activists from the premises.
Lilia Shibanova, executive director of GOLOS Association, provided the following commentary:
We support the demands of the participants of the strike. As a result of the December elections in Astrakhan, GOLOS conducted a public tribunal. It was found that the elections were marked by massive fraud. But no measures were taken. And gross violations were documented in March. The participants of the electoral process decided on an extreme measure — to stage a hunger strike. It is necessary to raise the public awareness of what is happening, to publicize all of the facts of violations, and to demand that the government takes action.
The hunger strikers appealed to President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgalieyev, Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, and Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov as follows:
The December elections in 2011, due to massive violations of Russian electoral legislation, aroused the just indignation of voters in all regions of the country, and it would seem that the government bodies and officials responsible for the preparation and conduct of the new elections should have learned from these lessons and taken all possible measures to prevent a repetition of the events of last December. But what happened at the polling stations in Astrakhan city on 4 March revealed that the fraudes of the December 2011 elections, sensing their full impunity and invincibility, transformed voting day into a continuous series of violations of the electoral law and flagrantly trampled on the constitutional rights or Astrakhan’s citizens to elect and be elected.
Live updates of all details surrounding the hunger strike can be found online at the following address: http://oleg-shein.livejournal.com/