Prosecutor pursues case against Russia's election monitor


RUSSIA’S PUBLIC prosecutor has opened a case of “administrative violation” against the independent election monitoring organisation Golos (voice) according to its executive Georgi Melkonyants.

The move could lead to a ban of the organisation’s activities in the lead up to Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

The prosecutor’s office told Mr Melkonyants that alleged negative publicity given by Golos on its website violates article 44 of the country’s election law. The section of the website specifically mentioned shows maps of Russia that identify where alleged electoral abuses have been taking place.

The most striking case identified by Golos has been against Denis Agashin, head of the city administration of Izhevsk the town in which the Kalashnikov assault rifle is manufactured.

Mr Agashin was recorded giving a speech to veterans’ organisations in which he states that the amount of state subsidies they were to receive would be in direct ratio to the percentage of votes received by Russian prime minister Vladamir Putin’s United Russia party. A speech in which Mr Agashin made these remarks has since appeared on YouTube and has been seen by 340,000 people.

Mr Melkonyants was also informed that Golos had been “spreading rumours disguised as reliable information in violation of article 51 of the Law on the Mass Media”.

The prosecutor’s office was acting in response to a request by three members of the Russian parliament, Andrei Nazarov of United Russia, Maxim Rokhmistrov of the ultra-right-wing “Liberal Democrats” and Anton Belyakov of A Just Russia, which describes itself as a Social Democratic party. The deputies had asked for a ban on Golos’s activities.

In a separate development an unnamed official of the Central Elections Commission has been quoted in the English-language newspaper the Moscow Times as saying United Russia, the Liberal Democrats and A Just Russia have been joined by the Communist Party in a pact with the government to ensure a United Russia victory in the election.

The source, described as a “high-ranking election official” said the parties would allow United Russia to get whatever percentage it wanted provided the other parties were guaranteed representation in the Duma.

The 450 Duma members are elected on a list system of proportional representation with parties needing to achieve 7 per cent of the vote to gain representation.

A poll by the reliable Levada Centre has suggested that United Russia’s representation in the Duma will be from 315 seats to 252 or 253 with the Communists in second place in the 90s, the Liberal Democrats in the 50s and A Just Russia with 44.