MOSCOW, December 2 (Itar-Tass) — All Russian newspapers on Friday publish features and articles dedicated to the coming elections to the Russian State Duma, or lower house of the national parliament, due on Sunday, December 4.
Thus, late on Thursday Moscow’s police summoned leaders of opposition parties to warn them against staging any unauthorized rallies or actions on the voting day. Among those who risked to come there were Eduard Limonov, the leader of Other Russia; Roman Dobrokhotov, the leader of the movement We; nationalist leaders Alexander Belov, Dmitry Demushkin, and Vladimir Tor, writes the Novye Izvestia newspaper. “They gave us instructions, leaflets warning that if we come out with unauthorized actions we will be arrested, the newspaper cites Roman Dobrokhotov. “But we once again said we are going to come out. Then, be ready to be detained, a police officer warned.”
An official warning from Moscow’s prosecutor office that any rallies on the voting day are outlawed was handed over to each of the oppositionist, writes the Kommersant daily. The Leftist Front, the newspaper goes on, calls on everyone who is not disposed to recognize the voting results to come to the Manezhnaya Square in downtown Moscow, just a stone’s throw from to the Kremlin; nationalists call to come to the Revolution Square, also near the Kremlin, and Limonov called on his supporters to come to the Triumphalnaya Square. And only nationalists tried to obtain a permit from the Moscow city authorities, but failed – they were refused such a permit on grounds that a rally might be considered as canvassing.
Moscow’s police started the practice of such meetings with oppositionists after first Marches of the Dissenters in 2007. Both parties called on each other to respect the law, but then police would disperse protest actions and detain their organizers.
According to media reports, a penalty and a warning have been issued to independent observers from the Golos (Voice) association.
On Thursday, delegates from the Moscow Helsinki group, Russia’s Human Rights Council, and the Russian arm of Transparency International spoke in support of the Golos Association For the Protection of Voter Rights, the Kommersant writes. The move came in response to a demand furnished to the Prosecutor General’s Office by State Duma lawmakers with United Russia, Just Russia, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) to check whether Golos’ activities are lawful. Human rights activists labeled the demand as “an attempt to slander” independent observers and a harbinger of a new wave of clamping down on independent non-profit organizations. In the mean time, Russia’s Central Elections Commission has accused Golos of “provocative” activities.
According to Moscow prosecutors, the association beached laws while publishing election-related materials. A warning has been issued to the association’s leader, Lilia Shibanova, for “seeking to create a negative image of one of the parties” in the run-up to the parliamentary vote, and for “abuse of the freedom of the mass media.” Experts call such claims absurd but do not rule out that they might be used as a pretext to ban the association before the voting day.
“If court finds Golos guilty and the organization continues its “unlawful activity,” the Prosecutor General’s Office may ban it,” Pavel Chikov, the leader of the association Agora, told the Kommersant.
The Vedomosti newspaper, in a feature entitled “A Wrong Way to Monitor,” writes that the authorities have stepped up campaign against opposition observers, turning the stoplight on possible challenging on the voting results rather than on the voting, the newspaper writes.
The newspaper also touches on the topic of an administrative case opened on Thursday against the human rights association Golos, which monitors elections. The theme of mercenary non-commercial organizations and “Judases” living on grants from the West and seeking to destabilize the situation was raised by the leaders of the ruling United Russia party, Vladimir Putin, at a party congress on Sunday. And two days later, on Tuesday, lawmakers filed their request to the prosecution office to check where Golos’ funds come from.
“The immediate goal is to distract Golos from its activity,” says Andrei Buzin, an expert from that organization. “The ultimate goal is to rob it of a possibility to collect information about violations on the voting day.”
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta publishes an article highlighting election canvassing methods. Journalists from the newspaper obtained details of a closed election-related meeting at the administration of the town of Kolomna outside Moscow. “Officials not only canvassed for United Russia but taught how to counteract opponents of the ruling party,” the newspaper writes.
The newspaper highlights another election-related incident. “Anti-United Russia moods have grown shockingly in St. Petersburg. A video has been posted on the Internet featuring a group of young men throwing a United Russia canvasser from a bridge into the river Moika. Luckily, the canvasser could swim and managed to get ashore in a few minutes,” the newspaper writes.
Election-related incidents have been reported from the city of Voronezh, where law enforcers “show hyperactivity.” A city resident, Oleg Boiko, told the newspaper that he had been interrogated for about three hours after being detained for canvassing against United Russia.