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Regional elections 2018: Politically biased election observation

(October 8, 2018)




Executive summary

The Russian organisation National Social Monitoring (NSM) coordinated by Roman Kolomoytsev invited 10 international experts to attend the regional elections in several Russian oblasts during the so-called single voting day. They were not officially accredited by Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) as election observers, but the Russian media and individual members of the CEC often referred to them as observers.

Neither the CEC nor the NSM published a full list of the invited international experts; however, using OSINT methods we have identified 9 out of 10 international experts from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Among them there were political activists and politicians (including one Member of the European Parliament), lawyers, businessmen, an academic and a former diplomat.

The majority of the invited international experts have a history of participating in various pro-Kremlin efforts such as (1) taking part in the politically biased election observation missions in Russia and Ukraine, (2) attempting to legitimise the illegitimate electoral processes in Transnistria and Crimea, (3) illegally visiting Russia-annexed Crimea and justifying the annexation of this Ukraine’s republic, and (4) regularly providing pro-Kremlin comments to the Russian state-controlled media.

The analysis of Russian media reports on the Russian elections on the single voting day and profiles of the international experts suggests that they were invited to Russia for two main reasons: (1) to boost the legitimacy of the elections with the Russian audience as the main addressee, and (2) to promote the allegedly positive image of Russia on the international stage.


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