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Deputy head of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) Leonid Ivlev has proposed to toughen the election legislation by obligating the observers to notify election commissions of their decision to monitor the election process in advance. This happened against the background of numerous statements of independent observers about violations during elections to the municipal Duma (legislature) of the Kasimov town.
The CEC recognised early elections to the Kasimov Duma legitimate, despite numerous observers’ reports about recorded violations, RBC Daily stresses. Coordinator of the Ryazan branch of the Golos (Voice) Association Sofia Ivanova told the publication that the voting results at several polling stations where ballot stuffing was recorded and ballot papers filled out in advance were found, cannot be recognised legitimate, and this, in connection with a low voter turnout, challenges the general voting results.
Leonid Ivlev stated on Tuesday that minor violations were recorded at the Kasimov elections that cannot call into questions the legitimacy of the voting, Kommersant writes. “Parties that took part in the elections practically confirmed their rating that they won at the State Duma elections,” said Mr. Ivlev, particularly noting the unprecedented activity of observers and their “aggressive behaviour.” “Election commissions of Kasimov have for the first time faced this, and we, perhaps, as well. The observers were outsiders, not from the Ryazan Region. They behaved extremely aggressively, interfering in the vote count procedure,” he explained, proposing to fix in the law the observers’ obligation to specify their status in advance. “Suppose an election commission member with the consultative vote right should designate himself or herself two weeks in advance,” Ivlev suggested.
The initiative of the CEC deputy head has been supported by members of the United Russia party. “The proposal is absolutely logical. With the increase in the number of registered parties it can happen so that more than 50-60 observers come to one polling station. It often happens that a polling station is just 25-30 metres in size, so it is obvious that in this case it is impossible to provide to the observers the conditions for adequate assessment of the voting procedure,” deputy secretary of the Presidium of the General Council of United Russia Alexei Chesnakov who has been elected to the Kasimov Duma, said.
“United Russia members have realised that if there are many observers they will be able to stop violations and effectively spread information about them through the Internet. Because the elections in Kasimov were small, but the whole country has learnt about them. Ivlev’s initiative is a response to the effectiveness of the civil control,” deputy executive director of Golos Association Grigory Melkonyants told the publication.
The opposition parties’ leaders have seen in Ivlev’s statement dissatisfaction with the United Russia results (the party scored 49.6 percent of the vote). “Thanks to the work of observers, the falsifications’ intensity was cut. It is the participation of observers from other regions – independent and professionally trained, that very much worries the CEC that has long turned into the headquarters on United Russia elections,” head of the CPRF (Communist Party) legal service Vadim Solovyov said.
The correction of the legislation in the interests of the ruling party continues, believes Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Experts are certain that Ivlev’s initiative is an attempt at impeding the formation of a professional community – of public monitors of election campaigns. Vice president of the Centre of Political Technology Rostislav Turovsky is certain that “It is CEC’s desire to regulate the work of observers and, it is clear, to restrict possibilities for the participation of visiting observers in the regional and municipal elections. And as they simultaneously are opposition observers, the goal is to restrict or make impossible the participation of visiting opposition observers in elections.” Namely – observers from Moscow who have gained experience during the previous federal elections and who now want to spread it across the country, by travelling from region to region. According to him, the authorities “seek to localise the protest movement and the movement of opposition-minded observers so that to prevent the spread of these sentiments to the provinces.”