Ludmila Alekseeva, Svetlana Gannushkina & Lev Ponomarev: The Escalation of Repressive Measures Continues!

posted 6 Dec 2011, 14:29 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 6 Dec 2011, 14:42 ]
This bacchanalia demonstrates that the authorities have discarded the last obstacles in the shape of established law and are ready to do anything it takes to avoid independent public monitoring of electoral rights and to paralyze possible protests against these anti-democratic government actions

6 December, 2011

Appeal by Human Rights Defenders

The obvious reduction in public support for the ruling party at the recent elections has pushed the regime to a new escalation of police and political repressions.

First of all, the practice of preventive arrests, so characteristic of totalitarian regimes, must be abolished. On the eve of the elections in Moscow the police broke into private apartments and seized members of The Other Russia movement. Several people were brutally beaten. Andrei Gorin was detained and charged with extremism.

On 4 December Sergei Udaltsov, coordinator of the Left Front organization, was abducted in a special police operation from the street near the Sokol metro station and taken away in a car without number plates. He has been charged with incorrectly crossing the road at New Square (!) and sentenced to five days in prison. He has declared a hunger strike without liquids.

A deputy of the district assembly in Petrovsk-Zabaikalsk has been sentenced to three days in prison.

In St Petersburg Oleg Nilov, who headed A Just Russia’s election list for the Legislative Assembly was beaten up by police directly in the polling station. The police also beat up Olga Kurnosova, leader of the regional division of United Civic Front, in a police bus.

Searches and detentions have been taking place in other cities as well.

On election day, 4 December, police officers in Moscow and other regions, on the say-so of the heads territorial election commissions, literally threw election observers out of polling stations by force for demanding that violations of the law cease or simply hindering the falsification of the count records.

On the evening of 4 December in Moscow and St. Petersburg among dozens of people detained were many who had in no way been participants in any demonstration.

These occurrences were repeated on an even bigger scale on the evening of 5 December in Moscow when more than 300 people, a majority of whom were walking away from the place where an officially permitted rally had been conducted, were detained by police and special forces, and charged with failing to obey the instructions of law enforcement officers. Aleksei Navalny and Ilya Yashin for many hours were crudely denied the right to meet their lawyers.

An unbridled propaganda campaign was conducted against Golos, an NGO which monitors elections. The authorities accused Golos of abusing their legal powers and of conducting illegal agitation. Liliya Shibanova, the director of Golos, had her personal laptop taken away from her by customs officials, on her arrival at Sheremetevo airport, on a ridiculous pretext, and was detained for 12 hours.

From all ends of the Russian Federation more and more news is coming in about mass violations of electoral law, about ballot stuffing, and about the so-called ‘carousels’ (people travelling round in groups from polling station to polling station using documentation allegedly showing they have permission to vote away from their places of residence to vote multiple times...). Observers have been expelled from polling stations with the help of the police – often directly before the start of the count. As a result, the authorities have had the opportunity to commit mass fraud. Here is one of the clearest examples: on the neighbouring polling stations, located in one school and in neighbouring rooms, as for example it was at polling stations Nos. 2473 and 2481 (in Moscow’s Kuntsevo district), the difference in results was a factor of four: 17% for United Russia, 36,8% for KPRF, 14,9% for Yabloko and 5,7% for A Just Russia (where there was effective election observation by members of the public); and 60% for United Russia, 20,7% for KPRF, 6,6% for Yabloko (where the authorities succeeded in changing the count results).

Very powerful hacker attacks were conducted against media and Internet sites that had published data about violations of electoral law by the authorities.

On the eve of the elections the government put unprecedented pressure on employers and NGOs with the aim of ensuring the election results the ruling party needed.

The instances cited are far from being a full list of the flood of communications that human rights groups are receiving.

This bacchanalia demonstrates that the authorities have discarded the last obstacles in the shape of established law and are ready to do anything it takes to avoid independent public monitoring of electoral rights and to paralyze possible protests against these anti-democratic government actions.

We demand the immediate removal of Vladimir Kolokoltsev, head of the Moscow police department, whose officers committed crude and mass violations of the constitutional rights of citizens – of election observers and of people who have sought to peacefully express their opinion.

We appeal to the newly elected deputies from KPRF and A Just Russia to use their official authority as deputies to demand investigations of these facts.

We call on Vladimir Lukin, human rights ombudsman of the Russian Federation, the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, and the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human rights, to conduct a special review of the violations of the constitutional rights of citizens related to the elections, to the attempts to conduct public oversight of the elections, and to the attempts by citizens to peacefully express their views about what is happening and to give an assessment of these violations.

Ludmila Alekseeva, chair, Moscow Helsinki Group
Svetlana Gannushkina, director, Civic Assistance Committee
Lev Ponomarev, executive director, Movement For Human Rights
Valery Borshchev, member, Moscow Helsinki Group
Ernst Chernyi, secretary, Public Committee for the Defence of Scientists


Ludmila Alekseeva, Svetlana Gannushkina and Lev Ponomarev are members of the advisory board of Rights in Russia

Ludmila Alekseeva lives in Moscow and is chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group. She is a member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights.

Svetlana Gannushkina lives in Moscow. A member of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, she heads the Civic Assistance Committee for refugees and IDPs and Memorial's Migration Rights Network.

Lev Ponomarev lives in Moscow and is director of the Movement For Human Rights.