EPDE protests against ongoing repression towards GOLOS

18 апреля 2013 г.

Civic Election Observation in Russia at Risk

European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) protests against ongoing repression towards GOLOS

The Association GOLOS is a non-governmental organisation defending the rights of voters of the Russian Federation during the last thirteen years through the observation of hundreds of election campaigns on national, regional and municipal level all over the Russian Federation.

Today GOLOS is the first Russian non-governmental organisation to which the 2012 law on Non-Commercial Organisations Performing the Function of “foreign agents” is applied.

The law requires that any non-governmental organisation receiving financial support from abroad and being “politically active” should register as a “foreign agent”. The defence of voters’ rights as conducted by the Association GOLOS cannot be assessed as a political activity but is a basic human rights protection. Consequently the Association GOLOS decided not to register under this discriminatory label. The accusations against GOLOS are even more ungrounded as the organisation has refused any financial support from abroad since the new law was passed in 2012. Consequence of a conviction of the organisation might be a fine with a sum up to 18.000 euro and the shut-down of the organisation.

The incrimination of the defence of the basic right for free elections as “political activity through foreign agents” is neither in line with the Russian constitution nor with a series of international obligations and treaties to which the Russian Federation has committed. Namely with the Charta of Paris, guaranteeing the right for free elections, the European Convention of Human Rights, protecting the right to association and assembly, and the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This UN Declaration guarantees the right of citizens to criticize governmental bodies alone or in association with others and to express proposals how to improve governmental actions. The Declaration’s article 13 explicitly states that persons and organisations defending human rights should have the right to ask for national and international financial support for the realisation of their activities.

The European Platform for Democratic Elections protests against ongoing harassment and legal prosecution of its member organisation, the Association GOLOS and of its director Lilia Shibanova. We call on the government of the Russian Federation to respect the basic human rights for free and fair elections, for freedom of assembly and for the protection of human rights defenders and to follow its commitments as laid down in the Russian Constitution and in its international obligations. We call on the Ministry of Justice to drop the ungrounded and unlawful allegations against the Association GOLOS and its director Lilia Shibanova. We call on the government of the Russian Federation to bring its legislation in line with international obligations and to annihilate the 2012 amendments to the Law on non-commercial organisations claiming the registration as “foreign agents”.

The European Platform for Democratic Elections is an association of thirteen European civil society organisations conducting or supporting civic election observation throughout Europe. The Platform has been installed in December 2012 in Warsaw and aims to protect the rights of European voters through the development of civic election observation.