Unfair pre-election process in Russia
The elections process ahead of the 4 December Duma elections in the Russian Federation has not been fair”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. “We have serious concerns on obstacles related to nomination of delegates and registration of parties, as well as lack of equal opportunities to campaign.”
Seven parties are registered to take part in the elections: 1) United Russia; 2) the Communist Party, 3) Fair Russia, 4) the Liberal Democratic Party, 5) The Party of Patriots, 6) the Right Course, and 7) Yabloko.
The non-governmental organization Golos, which has specialized on election monitoring, has registered widespread violations of election legislation and procedures. Among the main problems are:
– None of the new parties, except The Right Course, has been has been granted registration;
– Similar to previous Russian elections, administrative resources have frequently been used in campaigns for the party in power, United Russia. In the party’s list of candidates one can also find judges and prosecutors; professions that according to Russian legislation do not have a right to run for a seat in Parliament;
– The parties did not have equal opportunity to conduct their election campaigning, as for example access to media. According to Communist Party monitoring of main television channels (including The First Channel, Russia, NTV, TVTs and REN TV) in the period from September 1 to November 6, United Russia got 29 hours and 44 minutes of coverage, while the Liberal Democratic Party got 7 hours and 6 minutes, the Communist Party got 5 hours and 31 minutes, and Fair Russia got 4 hours and 9 minutes.
Golos has published a number of documented cases of violations, based on reports by 2700 Russian citizens. Cases have been documented where government officials as well as representatives of local authorities threaten with budget cuts or other kinds of pressure against teachers, other professions in public service, pensioners, and students in order for them to support United Russia.
There are also reports that political parties and their representatives were hindered by United Russia representative in spreading campaign material and to meet their supporters.
According to the Levada Centre, a Russian Independent Social Research Institute, 48% of Russians see the elections as a “fight between bureaucratic clans in order to get access to the budget”, while 46% think that the Central Election Commission acts in the interest of United Russia. 28% have either decided not to vote, or is still in doubt for which party they will give their voice.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee representatives Lene Wetteland and Anders Nielsen are in Russia during the Duma elections.
Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General, Mobile:+ 47 95753350
Lene Wetteland, Advisor, Mobile: + 47 97697553
Anders Nielsen, Information Advisor, Mobile: + 47 40844709
In English: http://files.golos.org/docs/5117/original/5117-golos-statement-1-02-11-2011-stateduma-eng.pdf?1321907103
 In Russian: http://www.golos.org/asset/5184