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OPORA appeals to foreign governments, IOs, and NGOs concerning involvement of Crimea in the Duma elections

(September 25, 2016)



Civil Network OPORA All-Ukrainian NGO calls on foreign governments, leading international organizations and national observation organization from different countries not to recognize the results of election to the State Duma of Russian Federation as an election, which corresponds to the generally recognized democratic standards and reflects the will of Russian electorate. This appeal is based on OPORA’s extensive experience in independent election monitoring efforts and participation in international dialog dedicated to raising the quality of election process.

As a result of so-called elections in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which are occupied by the Russian Federation but belong to Ukraine, a wide-scale falsification of voter lists and election results occurred in elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

When the results of so-called election in Crimea (both by federal lists and in single-member districts) were included in the election outcomes in State Duma elections, the will of legitimate Russian electorate was significantly distorted. There are no grounds to consider that formation of new RF State Duma was adequate and that the rights of citizens for real, free and fair elections and fair vote count were ensured.

Civil Network OPORA asks foreign governments, international organizations and national observation organization from different countries to take into consideration the following:

– Voter rolls used in elections to the State Duma were falsified by inclusion of Ukrainian citizens who live on the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. However, authenticity of voter rolls and validity of the franchise are inherent standards of a democratic election.

– The Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol are internationally recognized to be Ukrainian territories, and it is undeniable that Crimeans were unable to opt out of Russian citizenship. These two facts prove that inclusion of Ukrainian citizens in voter rolls used for State Duma elections was groundless.

– Compulsory “naturalization” of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea was documented in the Resolution of European Parliament as of 4 February 2016. Besides that, the Russian legislation itself, which was adopted shortly after the seizure of peninsula, establishes the mechanisms used for highhanded naturalization or denaturalization, which grossly violate human rights.

– Inadequacy of the voting in Crimea, based on enrolling of Ukrainian citizens in RF electoral lists, is also proved by existing international commitments related to citizenship. For example, a national legislation regulating citizenship is recognized by other states only if it corresponds to current international conventions, international common law and internationally recognized principles, which concern citizenship. It is internationally recognized that the certain Ukrainian territories are occupied and acquisition of Russian citizenship by Crimeans is illegal. Therefore, the voter rolls used in these State Duma elections are invalid on the international level.

– This so-called voting on occupied territories of Ukraine and, moreover, consideration of its results while distributing State Duma seats is not only absurd in terms of international law and the principle of the inviolability of borders, but also reflects general non-conformity of Russian legislation to international standards. According to the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting (1990), participating states shall guarantee that their laws, administrative procedures, practices and policies are in line with their commitments under international law. Taking into consideration that current Russian legislation allows recognition of so-called voting on occupied territory of Ukraine, this legislation is not in line with international standards.

– There is no chance that the principle of equal opportunities was followed in elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation while some candidates adhered to international commitments of their country and didn’t campaign on occupied territory of Ukraine, and other used falsified voter rolls to gain mandates.

– Taking into consideration an uncontrolled process of Russian citizens crossing internationally recognized border of Ukraine and their permanent residence in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, formation of Crimean electoral rolls for so-called elections to the State Duma is also against international humanitarian law prohibiting the occupying state to resettle its citizens to the occupied territories of another state.

Thus, Civil Network OPORA All-Ukrainian Non-Governmental Organization calls on foreign governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from different countries to take an explicit position in their assessment of election outcomes in the RF State Duma elections. In particular, OPORA calls on OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission for the State Duma elections in the Russian Federation not to include the number of illegitimate votes and the corresponding electoral districts in Crimea in their preliminary assessment and final report on elections in Russian Federation.

It is important that civilized international community and civil society of democratic states accelerate their efforts to secure electoral standards, prevent falsifications and counteract attempts of fraudulent power legitimization by authoritarian regimes.

We call on all stakeholders to start a dialog concerning development and international approval of standard response to electoral challenges caused by illegal actions of one country on a territory of another country.

OPORA expresses solidarity with fellow citizens of Ukraine living in occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, who demonstrated their civic position through a low turnout in these so-called elections. These so-called elections were followed by political harassment and vindictive punishments by Russian enforcement apparatus and illegal formation on the territory of Crimea. Besides that, higher leadership of the Russian Federation is interested in demonstration of “loyalty” by citizens of occupied Ukrainian territories.

We would also express our solidarity with position of Georgian and Moldavian NGOs concerning illegitimacy of holding Russian elections on territories, which do not belong to their legitimate territory and call on international organizations to take into consideration these circumstances when deciding on their own position concerning elections in Russia.

We highly appreciate efforts of the certain Russian NGOs, observers from parties and candidates, which didn’t recognize elections in Crimea, but have secured independent oversight of election process on legitimate territory of the Russian Federation. Their efforts is a significant contribution to democratic transformations in Russia.

Please find this statement also here.

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