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GOLOS preliminary statement based on the results of presidential election observation

(March 20, 2018)



The movement “Golos” carried out long- and short-term observation at all stages of the election campaign during the 2018 presidential race in the Russian Federation.

On election day, the “United Call Center Hotline” received more than six thousand calls. The “Map of Violations” crowdsourcing service received three thousand messages during the entire campaign, including two thousand on Election Day.

In the preliminarily assessment of the presidential elections, “Golos” acknowledges the definite strong result of the winning candidate but regretfully declares that the movement does not recognize these elections as truly fair, i.e. fully consistent with the Constitution, the laws of the Russian Federation, and international election standards because the election results were achieved in an unfree, unequal, and uncompetitive election campaign. This fact does not allow “Golos,” therefore, to assert that the will of the voters was expressed as the result of a free election campaign.

Recorded cases of fraud and violations regarding election procedures, including during ballot counting, require additional verification and detailed analysis of videotapes from the polling stations, which the movement “Golos” began on March 19.

Specific examples illustrating the findings by “Golos” can be found in the reports and statements of the movement, in the “Election Day Chronicle” on the movement’s website, as well as in the messages on the “Map of Violations”.

Characteristics of the Election Campaign Before Election Day

The elections of the president of the Russian Federation in 2018 took place in a limited-competition environment. In many ways, this is due to the existing restrictions on passive electoral citizen rights and to the nature of media reporting on the elections.

The artificial mobilization of an administratively-dependent electorate using various technologies came as the result of the lack of competition in the presidential race and as a reaction to the election boycott campaign (promoted by Alexei Navalny). Another special feature of the campaign was the widespread involvement of underage citizens, both in the mobilization of voters and in direct political campaigning.

At the same time, the movement would like to stress the positive role of election commissions, which significantly increased the amount of information provided to citizens about opportunities to participate in the elections.

Coverage by the mass media was characterized by the manipulative and tendentious nature of information on candidates, in strong part because the media is to some degree controlled by the state. Such a situation prevents citizens from obtaining objective and reliable information about candidates. The incumbent President Vladimir Putin’s election campaign activities had a significant influence on the voters’ will due to his official title and the widespread coverage by the media.

In comparison with previous presidential elections, the election commission system was much more open. In general, interaction with the observer community has improved, including on the election day.

The CEC of Russia created a more convenient voting system for the voters “at the current location,” in a polling station other than the place of residence which, however, did not eliminate the possibility of administrative abuse.

On the eve of Election Day, the state increased pressure on civil activists and independent observers. This pressure manifested itself in attempts to obstruct the activities of independent observers during formation of a call center, as well as in the use of political surveillance and “black PR” against them. Thanks to the intervention of the Chairman of the CEC of Russia on the eve of Election Day, pressure on the movement “Golos” was minimized.

There were many cases of pressure on voters expressing the wish to realize the right not to participate in the vote.

Preliminary Observation Results on Election Day

The new voting procedure “at the current location” was used for executing compulsion to vote: there were records of special voter lists, organized voter transfers, and activities to monitor voters’ participation in the voting process. Many reports came from polling stations located on or near the grounds of student dormitories, colleges, and large enterprises. Voter “migration” within districts significantly exceeded voter “migration” between districts (For more information, see the express analysis:”ce_download block”>

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