#MoscowElectionCrisis – Appeal to the World Leaders
Pro-democracy Russians appeal to the world leaders and international community to condemn Kremlin’s repressions and the recent attack on civil liberties.
Pro-democracy Russians appeal to the world leaders and international community to condemn Kremlin’s repressions and the recent attack on civil liberties.
On 8 September 2019 Russia’s largest cities – Moscow and St. Petersburg – will hold elections, respectively, for the City Duma and municipal councils. More
To the attention of:
Thomas Greminger, Secretary General, OSCE
Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
George Tsereteli, President, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
21 August 2019
On 8 September 2019 Russia’s largest cities – Moscow and St. Petersburg – will hold elections, respectively, for the City Duma and municipal councils. The preparation for the elections and actions by electoral commissions raise serious doubts over whether these elections will comply with the principles of fair competition.
In accordance with Paragraph 6 of the OSCE Copenhagen Document, Participating States have committed to respecting “the right of their citizens to take part in the governing of their country, either directly or through representatives freely chosen by them through fair electoral processes”. Paragraph 8 provides for the possibility of OSCE election observation in Participating States both on the national and sub-national levels. In recent years, the Organization has sent observers to local elections on numerous
occasions, including to Georgia (21 October and 12 November 2017), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (15 and 29 October 2017), and Albania (30 June 2019).
Given the situation with the upcoming elections in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the fact that the Russian Federation, as an OSCE Participating State, has committed to holding free and competitive elections, we, the officially registered candidates for the Moscow City Duma and St. Petersburg municipal councils, propose that the OSCE send an observer mission to Russia to monitor the elections on 8 September 2019.
Candidates for the Moscow City Duma:
Daria BESEDINA (District #8)
Vladimir ZALISHCHAK (District #32)
Boris KAGARLITSKY (District #42)
Maksim KRUGLOV (District #14)
Mikhail TIMONOV (District #16)
Candidates for St. Petersburg municipal councils:
Yelena ANDREYEVA (Pulkovsky Meridian municipal district)
Olga BADANINA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Dmitry BERSENEV (Komendantsky Aerodrom municipal district)
Vladimir VOLSKY (Liteyny municipal district)
Aleksey VOROBYOV (Moskovskaya Zastava municipal district)
Georgy GLUKHOVSKY (Narodny municipal district)
Konstantin GOLOKTEYEV (Yuzhno Primorsky municipal district)
Yelizaveta GOLONSKAYA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Anton GORBUNOV (Smolninskoye municipal district)
Karina GREYKHANOVA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Natalya GRYAZNEVITCH (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Dmitry DAVYDOV (Akademicheskoye municipal district)
Lyubov DYUVE (Pargolovo municipal district)
Igor ZAINTCHUKOVSKY (Kolpino municipal district)
Aleksey ZAKHAROV (Ostrov Dekabristov municipal district)
Maksim IVANOV (Novoizmaylovskoye municipal district)
Anastasiya IZMAYKOVA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Pavel KALMYKOV (Akademicheskoye municipal district)
Inessa KALMYKOVA (Akademicheskoye municipal district)
Nikolay KAMILATOV (Ostrov Dekabristov municipal district)
Maria KARKAVTSEVA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Kseniya LAVROVA (Vladimirsky municipal district)
Yelena LARICHEVA (Malaya Okhta municipal district)
Oleg MAKSAKOV (municipal district #65)
Dmitry MARKEVICH (Liteyny municipal district)
Alexander MAKHANKOV (Pushkin municipal district)
Yuri MEREZHKO (Petergof municipal district)
Sergey MIKHEYEV (Sapsoniyevskoye municipal district)
Vladimir MYASNIKOV (Uritsk municipal district)
Lyudmila NAUMENKO (Bolshaya Okhta municipal district)
Ivetta NIKITINA (Ligovka Yamskaya municipal district)
Dmitry NIKOLAYEV (Yugo Zapad municipal district)
Maria NOVIKOVA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Mikhail PETROV (Admiralteysky municipal district)
Andrei PIVOVAROV (municipal district #78)
Anastasiya RODINA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Alexander SAFRONOV (municipal district #78)
Polina SIZOVA (Malaya Okhta municipal district)
Ilya SIYALOV (Porokhovye municipal district)
Ivan SOROKIN (Ligovka Yamskaya municipal district)
Alexandra STUDENIKINA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Alexander SYCHYOV (Murino municipal district)
Dayana TOROPOVA (Dvortsovy municipal district)
Vyacheslav TUTUSHKIN (Ozero Dolgoye municipal district)
Andrei FEDYAYEV (Vasilyevsky municipal district)
Maksim KHALIMOVSKY (Malaya Okhta municipal district)
Ivan CHIKHNYAYEV (Komendantsky Aerodrom municipal district)
Aleksey KHLEBAYEV (municipal district #54)
Pavel KHUSU (Vvedensky municipal district)
Ivan CHEBOTAR (Smolninskoye municipal district)
Tatiana SHISHOVA (Pushkin municipal district)
Nikita YUFEREV (Smolninskoye municipal district)
This Article first appeared in Russian at Echo of Moscow.
Photo: OSCE/Mikhail Evstafiev
Working group of the “Coalition for Sovereign Elections” calls International community to give strong immediate reaction on aggression of the Kremlin in Georgia. More
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2019
We call international community to give strong immediate and clear reaction on events taking place on the so-called border with occupied Tskhinvali region in Georgia. Russian FSB forces kidnapped eight Georgian citizens during the last 24 hours (Aug 17, 2019 – Aug 18, 2019). In parallel, from the 7th of August, Kremlin continues creeping occupation of Georgian territories. It’s unacceptable.
It’s already clear that this aggression is the provocation against Georgian people, as well as sovereignty of the country. Kremlin tries to destabilize situation in Georgia using all the possible tools: supported media outlets in Georgia as well as outside of the country; supported politicians and activists; nationalistic campaigns; propaganda; and now – direct aggression against Georgian people.
We express our gratitude to diplomats in Georgia for their reactions, but it’s not enough. We call leaders and governments of the Free World to express strong official positions in this regard. To develop sanctions list against the Kremlin and it’s allies to support Georgian territorial integrity and sovereignty. To call Security Council to discuss ongoing aggression of Russian government in Georgia. Immediately.
“Yesterday”, they placed their bases on Georgian territories. After – they did it in Crimea. What’s next? We call for immediate response to the Kremlin’s aggression in Georgia.
Statement is distributed on behalf of the working group of the
“Coalition for Sovereign Elections”:
Contact: Egor Kuroptev, Representative of the Free Russia Foundation on South Caucasus. Tbilisi, Georgia. 08.18.2019.
FRF was reportedly one of 30 organizations subjected to phishing attacks on the highly-encrypted ProtonMail servers and remains under a barrage of Kremlin propaganda amid massive protests in Moscow. More
FRF was reportedly one of 30 organizations subjected to phishing attacks on the highly-encrypted ProtonMail servers and remains under a barrage of Kremlin propaganda amid massive protests in Moscow.
In recent months, FRF email accounts associated with ProtonMail and Gmail have been under a barrage of sophisticated phishing attempts to gain access to our private account information. According to reports in Bellingcat and The Insider, themselves victims of this attack, FRF was one of 30 ProtonMail users that were targeted in attempted phishing hacks. The list of targets under attack by the sophisticated operation carried out against the Swiss-based mail service included NGOs and think tanks, including Free Russia Foundation (FRF), and investigative journalists/activist researchers that expose aggressive Russian intelligence operations against Western democracies. According to Bellingcat’s research, the most likely perpetrator behind this attack is the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, that has already been caught in multiple illegal hacking operations against the US and its EU allies. Reportedly, Swiss, French and Dutch law enforcement are investigating the details of the latest attack. In a statement by ProtonMail, it is suggested that the cyberattacks were carried out by “Fancy Bear,” which is commonly thought to be a front for the GRU.
Over the last few months, Kremlin propaganda networks have initiated a barrage of public and discreet attacks on FRF and its staff. This has included statements made by the General Prosecutor’s office that FRF, among other foreign groups, have been responsible for organizing recent rallies in Russia. While we applaud those facing down police brutality, the organic rallies of up to 60,000 Russians in Moscow and elsewhere have been in protest against the illegal removal of several non-Kremlin allied candidates from the Moscow city ballot; they were not organized by foreign actors.
FRF has also been the subject of several recent breathless news reports suggesting our promotion of democracy, led by Russians for Russians is somehow treasonous. This came on the heels of June 28, 2019 designation by the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s office that FRF is an “undesirable” organization, one of 18 international organizations banned from direct activities in Russia. (FRF statement on the “undesirable” designation)
Rosfinmonitoring, Russian Financial service, absurdly attempted to accuse a member of FRF staff of being a suspect in financial transaction with ISIL (Islamic State). Ironically, this low-quality fabrication was revealed just at the time when FRF was finalizing its ground-breaking report “Misrule of Law” on the Kremlin’s interference in judicial and law enforcement processes in the West.
This spring, Russian State Duma officials and Kremlin-sponsored media falsely accused FRF of plotting and instigating anti-Russian protests in Tbilisi, Georgia, through our recently-opened office there.
“The fact that our analysts are targets of such illegal hacking and slander attacks alongside the best Western investigators of Russian aggression only confirms to us that we are doing the right thing as we expose the crimes of this kleptocratic regime. The whole world sees the brutality and stupidity of the Kremlin’s attempts to suppress genuine protests of tens of thousands of ordinary Muscovites and other Russian citizens. The Free Russia Foundation will continue its objective analysis of ongoing developments despite any attempts to impede our work,” said Natalia Arno, Founder and President of the FRF.
For more information, contact Natalia Arno at firstname.lastname@example.org
The political crisis in Moscow is unraveling at a dizzying speed, and it is doing so along the worst possible scenario. More
By Alexander Morozov
The political crisis in Moscow is unraveling at a dizzying speed, and it is doing so along the worst possible scenario.
It had been anticipated that the Mayor’s Office would adopt a measured, technical approach to solving its elections “challenges”: disqualify some of independent candidates by claiming their voters’ pre-registration signatures are invalid; remove other candidates on procedural irregularities later in the game; and the remaining candidates will just wash away on their own, unable to compete with the Kremlin’s candidates’ government financial backing.
We will never know whether this approach had ever even been considered.
Instead, the Moscow Election Commission skipped all the expected niceties and invalidated the preregistration signatures of all major independent candidate right of the bat, in a manner unabashed, utterly outrageous and blatantly illegal. This was a powerful message from the Kremlin and the Mayor’s Office to Russia’s civil society – the political challenge posed by independent candidates will be neutralized by force.
While the Chair of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova and the Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov are lying low, Putin’s punitive arms – the Investigative Committee and the FSB are going full throttle. The Kremlin’s spokesmen have already asserted that independent candidates are “agents of foreign-sponsored Orange Revolution”. Home searches have commenced. Having carried out night raids on homes of independent candidates and their relatives, as well as on party headquarters and field offices, the siloviki leadership are now busy fabricating “coup collusion” cases – they are alleging that the July 27 protest participants (who came out to streets to protest illegal removal of independent candidates from the race) were really planning to storm and take over the Mayor’s Office building and the Moscow Election Committee office.
This time, the authorities have jailed not only Alexei Navalny and his associates, as they had done many times before, but even Vladimir Milov, who did not participate in the July 27 protest, and instead was leading live coverage of it on his YouTube channel. The police showed up even at the Dozhd TV bureau (previously assumed as enjoying a somewhat protected semi-sanctioned status among opposition outlets). Jail terms served by Navalny, Yashin, Galyamina, Gudkov, Yanauskas and others range from 10 to 30 days.
The Libertarian Party was in discussions with the Mayor’s Office for organizing a protest on July 3. When Mikhail Svetlov, who was conducting negotiations, refused the Mayor’s Office’s proposal to hold the protest at the Sakharov’s Prospect, he was arrested right as he was exiting the meeting, and locked up for a 30-day term.
So what we have looming ahead of us, is the second “unsanctioned” protest, and with it, mass repressions of pro-democracy Russians – the Bolotnaya Square 2.0.
To all involved, it is abundantly clear that the Kremlin and the Mayor’s Office are engaged in an unfathomable act of depravity – they are fully aware that there were absolutely no mobilized groups or organizations among the protestors on July 27 and that there were no plans to storm government buildings or even resist law enforcement representatives. Muscovites have learned through bitter experience of the Bolotnaya Square persecution that every instance of resistance is recorded by numerous cameras from many angles. They also know that they are not a match for the army of riot police deployed to squash their protests. But more importantly, it is obvious that the most that the milieu of people who came out to protest was capable of was to climb a light post, but nothing even close to engaging in physical confrontation with commando units. The police handling of the protestors was unquestionably excessive in its brutality.
It is pointless to ask “how is that possible?” No, the Kremlin is not ashamed, and no one has the capacity to make it feel even the slightest remorse.
Those who came out to the streets on July 27 have shown remarkable courage. The follow-on protest will require even a higher level of valor. The Investigative Committee has opened several criminal cases against protest participants alleging “violence against the police”, and even some involving Article 211 of the Criminal Code – organization of massive social unrests. In other words, the authorities are fabricating the second Bolotnaya Case, but this time on a much more massive scale. Last time, persecuted were common citizens who accidentally got folded into the mangle of the police provocation. This time, the government is moving with criminal persecution of candidates, and possibly even against the media (Vladimir Milov, Mikhail Svetov, one of the leaders of the Libertarian Party, and Alexandra Perepelova, the Editor in Chief of Dozhd TV did not participate in street protests, they were covering protests from their respective bureaus.
A slew of Kremlin’s talking heads are helpfully suggesting – everything has been organized with foreign money, from one source of financing. Sergey Mironov, a leader of A Just Russia party in Russian Parliament, Sergey Markov, a political scientist and a Kremlin apologist, are already on the record saying just that. And that means that the Investigative Committee will now attempt to link the leaders of groups who were standing up to protect their voting rights with Soros, Khodorkovsky and the U.S. State Department.
It is very likely that despite the government’s attempts to smother protests, sanctioned and non-sanctioned protests will continue. The people are very angry. No matter how massive those protests will be, they still won’t force the government to change its position. But they would be critical to help support candidates already imprisoned and those who are being investigated.
What else can help the pro-democracy forces in Russia?
Candidates’ Solidarity. Those candidates who have managed to register to run, must withdraw their candidacies in solidarity. This gesture alone would, by no means, paralyze the election campaign, but it would send a powerful message to the Russian society.
Publication of the “Sobyanin’s List”. For the moment, public attention is fixed on those who have not been allowed to run. But the media should hit back against the Moscow government and dissect the Sobyanin’s List – those candidates who are being sneaked into the Moscow City Council to take up the spots of the disqualified, arrested and persecuted candidates. Spoilers should be exposed to public scrutiny.
As even pro-Kremlin observers admit, the Mayor’s Office has made a big mistake by disqualifying candidates based on validity of signatures en-masse. This move strikes at the core of the current Kremlin’s political strategy of advancing self-nominated candidates. Now it is impossible to explain how all of the “sanctioned” candidates have managed to collect impeccable signatures (while no one has witnessed their signature collectors or campaign staff), while the true fighters whose volunteers had tirelessly canvassed streets for weeks have “fake” signatures. This is why, these self-nominated candidates and spoilers should be thoroughly and publicly examined.
More Publicity. Russian media outlets have demonstrated an exceptional level of solidarity to stop the government prosecution of the anti-corruption investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in June 2019. The events surrounding July 27 protests feature even more flagrant instances of suppression of freedom of the press, i.e. – raids on live broadcast centers, including even the Dozhd TV station. Dozhd executed an ambitious task – it conducted live coverage from four locales simultaneously. However, it cannot be the only outlet covering follow-on protests on August 3, 10 and so on.
Russia is in the midst of a major political crisis. Key global outlets, such as CNN, ARD and BBC must carry live coverage of these events. We need the support of prominent international journalist associations and media outlets – in form of statements condemning the government strongarm attempts to shut of their Russian colleagues who want to show in detail what is going on.
Kafelnikov et al. Public statement of the famous Russian tennis player Evgeni Kafelnikov commanded much spotlight. We hope that other world-famous Muscovites and Russians join him. Such statements are truly invaluable – they are an immense moral support to those who are fighting for their rights while being under attack of a brutal and cynical government.
Preparedness by International Organizations. Many international organizations have already issued statements on the crisis in Moscow. Some would say that the Kremlin has been ignoring such statements in the recent years, and they would be right. But right now it is hard to predict how many red lines the siloviki leadership is prepared to cross and how many taboos to break in its fight against the Muscovites in the coming weeks. That is why, PACE, OSCE, the European Commission, Reporters Without Borders, the International Helsinki Commission, international election monitoring agencies, European Ministries of Foreign Affairs – they all must be engaged now, at the very first stage. It is irrelevant whether they can or cannot do anything constructive at this point. We already have the precedent of the Bolotnaya Square cases – there will be new political prisoners, there will be political refugees. And they would need support. And that’s why international humanitarian organizations must get ready now.
Who is Peddling the Orange Revolution Ruse? Andrey Pertsev’s exposé of the chaos at the Sobyanin’s campaign headquarters that led to the political crisis during the elections. To save face and cover up the fall outs of this mistake, siloviki are peddling the Orange Revolution story to Putin. Yes, the deal has both the seller and the buyer. A concerted journalistic effort should be made to clarify specifically who is responsible for the political mistake at the Mayor’s Office, how the decision-making process took place, who tasked the head of Moscow Election Commission Gorbunov, and exactly who is trying to sell to Putin the “Orange Revolution” ruse. All involved, including members of prosecution teams, loud-mouthed spokesmen and deputies should be added to the meticulously substantiated List of the Bolotnaya 2.0 Perpetrators.
Lubov Sobol’s Hunger Strike – this is much more important than seems at the first glance. She is ready to continue all the way up to elections, which is almost forty more days.
Political hunger strikes had global resonance not only during the Soviet dissidents’ era (i.e. Mustafa Dzhemilev, Andrey Sakharov), but also later. In 2010, a political hunger-strike of Guillermo Hernandez has led to the release of 52 political prisoners; and in April 2011, the hunger strike of an Indian anti-corruption movement leader Anna Hazare has pushed the government to adopt an anti-corruption legislation. Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike had a strong international resonance.
Therefore, Lubov Sobol’s hunger strike should be viewed in a broader context, without possible reservations against Navalny.
“Wetbacks”. A significant portion of protestors came from other cities – this is what the siloviki have said, and then Sobyanin echoed in his public remarks – and we must take it at face value. The crisis in Moscow, therefore, is the whole Russia protesting, not just Moscow. Not at the very least because the actions of the Mayor’s Office and siloviki is also a model for the Russian regions. Everyone understands that “if it goes in Moscow, it is acceptable in any other major Russian city.” Civil rights are equal for all. And they must be defended regardless of one’s propiska.
No Illusions. Old-timers should patiently explain to the youth that today’s protest are unlikely to bring down the current regime, regardless of how many people come out to the street and how violently they protest. Comparisons to the Kyiv’s Maidan or the Arab revolutions are naïve.
Mass protests become important when there are: 1. A split within the regime, a presence of an influential fraction that is advocating non-violent solutions; or a weak leader whose grip is loosening (as it was the case with the Velvet Revolutions of 1989, during the defeat of the Putsch in Russia, with Ukraine’s Yanukovich in 2014, etc); 2. A number of organizations, not necessarily large, who are pre-mobilized, have experience of violent clashes (sports clubs, veterans groups, soccer fans, right and left radical groups, etc); 3. A fixed undivided attention of the international community on the developments that demoralizes the regime; 4. A critically important sense shared by the protest participants that their actions are far-reaching and supported by other cities; and finally, 5. Frequently decisive is the extraordinary violence by the government that leads to mass mobilization.
When these factors are absent, we have a different historic scenario at play: one million gets together, protests and then goes home at night; or violently clashes with the police, without influencing the overall political situation in the country.
Not a single of the above described factors is present in today’s Russia.
This does not mean that citizens cannot or should not go to the streets en masse to protest government despotism. It only means that the efforts should be focuses not on futile hopes, but on rational defense measures against the Bolotnaya Square 2.0 cases, from a new wave of oppression from the government.
No Resistance [while protesting]. People should be on the lookout for provocations. This means that every participant of protests should denounce attempts at resistance. A winning strategy today is keep one’s arms up, (the way it was done by the protestors at the Bryusovo’s Intersection) and chant “we are unarmed”, and not attempt to put up any resistance.
This Article first appeared in Russian at the Republic.
The Free Russia Foundation team and the Board of Directors are grieving together with our friend and Vice President Vladimir Kara-Murza and his family on the loss of his father, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a very talented Russian journalist. More
The Free Russia Foundation team and the Board of Directors are grieving together with our friend and Vice President Vladimir Kara-Murza and his family on the loss of his father, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a very talented Russian journalist.