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Rights Group of the Week: Golos

posted 30 May 2016, 06:59 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 May 2016, 07:00 ]
The election monitor Golos said this week that NTV journalists are secretively obtaining information about its employees’ movements from law enforcement or security agencies. As RFE/RL reported, ‘using this information, Golos alleges, the journalists are able to track the group’s itinerary and wait for them - cameras and microphones in hand - outside embassies and other Moscow venues where they meet foreign diplomats to discuss the country’s elections.’  

According to HRO.org, Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of Golos, recently said in a Facebook Facebook Post that Golos’ project coordinator Roman Udot ‘suspected some time ago that he was being unlawfully monitored and data about meetings was being transmitted to the NTV journalists. Golos decided to conduct its own investigation and is believed to have set up a telephone meeting with staff from the Canadian embassy in Moscow.’

As quoted by Novaya Gazeta, Grigoryants said: ‘The NTV journalists appeared at the appointed time and waited. They asked why representatives from the embassies had showed up. Everything was obvious. Who in Russia has access to phone taps? There aren’t that many possibilities.’

RFE/RL report that NTV producer Petr Drogovoz and correspondent Liliya Parfenova, both of whom had worked on the Anatomy Of A Protest series that claimed Washington was funding anti-Putin protests and portrayed Kremlin critics as Western puppets, attended the Golos meeting. Parfenova ‘denied eavesdropping on the group’s calls.’ However, ‘Udot says that out of eight such get-togethers over the past two years, NTV ambushed him twice after he showed his passport to an embassy police guard and twice when he made arrangements by telephone. NTV did not show up at the other four meetings, which were scheduled by e-mail, he said. “Where there’s a policeman plus a passport - or a phone call - there is NTV,” Udot told RFE/RL.’

HRO.org notes: ‘In April this year, Golos was given a record fine for allegedly violating the "foreign agent" law. The fine amounted to 1.2 million roubles. The organization was fined because it allegedly did not flag itself as a "foreign agent." After Golos was added to the register, the organization made the decision to stop working in the format of its original legal entity, and to work as an unregistered association which cannot be designated as a "foreign agent." However, the legal entitiy Golos was not closed down.' 

The outcomes are not always what the journalists from NTV may wish, however. HRO.org quotes Melkonyants as saying: 'We have nothing to hide. In 2011, before the elections, when NTV was doing the exact same things, it worked in our favour. Thanks to their broadcast, a large number of people found out about Golos, and we were able to attract more people concerned about the situation and organize high-quality election monitoring. They haven’t noticed the changes in the public mood and they’re still working with the same old techniques.’ 

'Golos alleges unlawful phone tapping of activists,' HRO.org in English, 24 May 2016
Carl, Schreck, 'Russian Election Monitor Sets Trap To Test NTV For Wiretapping,' RFE/RL, 26 May 2016