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Russian election committee chief warns EU against interference in presidential election

January 09, 18:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission comments on the refusal to allow blogger Alexei Navalny to participate in the election

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MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) Ella Pamfilova has called on the European Union representatives to hold off from statements that might be regarded as interference in the election process in Russia.

Speaking at the Central Election Commission meeting on Tuesday, Pamfilova said that after the CEC’s refusal to allow blogger Alexei Navalny to participate in the election "the [US] Department of State responded quickly, and the European External Action Service spokesperson made a statement." According to the latter statement, the decision to bar Navalny from the election "casts a serious doubt on political pluralism in Russia and the prospect of democratic elections," Pamfilova said. The statement also said that "politically-motivated charges should not be used against political participation."

"The CEC, which has an independent status for taking decisions from both the executive and legislative branches of power in the country, hopes that the representatives of such a prominent organization as the EU is will later on study national documents and factual circumstances more thoroughly before making such statements, without using any unreliable reports, and will prevent any actions that could be interpreted as intervention in the presidential election campaign in the Russian Federation," the CEC chief said.

She added that the CEC cannot evaluate the fairness of Navalny’s verdict. "This discussion is beyond the CEC’s competence. We are strictly guided by the officially recognized decisions," Pamfilova noted.

She elaborated that the CEC’s position will be directed to the European External Action Service and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Denial of registration

Navalny expressed intention to run in the 2018 election as a self-nominated candidate, but the CEC refused to register his initiative group due to his criminal record under the article of the Russian Criminal Code "Embezzlement and misappropriation" which is a serious crime. Navalny was charged in 2017 under the Kirovles case and given a suspended sentence of five years, with probation of one year and five months.

In addition to that, in 2014 Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg Navalny were charged over embezzling Yves Rocher East’s funds under Article 159.4 ("Fraud in business activity," which later became invalid) and point A in Part 3 of Article 174.1 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Laundering money and other property by a group of individuals in collusion.") Alexei Navalny was given a suspended sentence of three and a half years and his brother Oleg, three and a half years in a general regime penal colony.

Russian citizens convicted for serious or extremely serious crimes and having outstanding conviction by the day of the vote cannot be elected under Russian law. They cannot be elected for 10 years following the expungement of record for a serious crime either, as well as for 15 years for an extremely serious crime.

However, Navalny says that only people who are being held in detention cannot be elected under the Russian constitution.

Chief of the Russian Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova repeatedly explained that Navalny cannot run in the election now due to his criminal record, as did the Russian Prosecutor General Office. According to Pamfilova, Navalny will be able to participate in the election after 2028.

On December 30, 2017, Russia’s Supreme Court denied Navalny’s appeal to recognize the CEC’s refusal to register his initiative group as illegal. On January 6, the Supreme Court’s board of appeals also rejected the blogger’s complaint about the refusal to recognize the decision of the Central Election Commission as illegal.

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