Golos alleges unlawful phone tapping of activists

posted 30 May 2016, 02:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 May 2016, 06:49 ]
24 May 2016

Source: HRO.org (info)
The voters’ rights movement Golos (Voice) has reported the illegal phone tapping of a member of the organization’s board, project coordinator Roman Udot.

The co-chair of the movement’s board, Grigory Melkonyants, posted about this on Facebook. According to Melkonyants, Roman Udot suspected some time ago that he was being unlawfully monitored and data about meetings was being transmitted to notorious TV journalists who specialize in the public defamation of independent civil society activists and opposition members.

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. According to Melkonyants, the results of the experiment supported their suspicions.

“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,” said Grigory Melkonyants, as quoted by Novaya Gazeta. In his opinion, the goal of these TV journalists is “clear”: “to accuse us of deadly sins and to trigger a conflict.”

“What kind of questions do people from NTV? They’re asking what kinds of instructions we received, they’re asking about money, grants, financing. That’s all that ‘interests’ them. And not one single question about elections or surveillance. They’ve come three times in recent memory. We know that we have been under surveillance for many campaigns now,” notes Roman Udot.

Earlier, Roman Udot wrote on LiveJournal about how NTV journalists found out about his movements ahead of time. Last April, Udot ran into the journalist Drogovoz at the exit of the Norwegian Embassy. Udot links this evident knowledge NTV employees possess with their collaboration with intelligence organizations.

Melkonyants recalls the first time he ran into Drogovoz, back in November 2011, when Drogovoz forced an entry into a training session for election observers, which was being held at the Independent Press Centre in Moscow.

“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,” says Grigory Melkonyants.

Pyotr Drogovoz is a producer at NTV. He participated in the creation of a documentary, The Anatomy of Protest, that was supposed to ‘unmask’ the truth about the protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012.

In April this year, Golos was given a record fine for 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 ‘foreign agent’ 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 entity Golos was not closed down.

Golos is engaged in training election monitors for federal and regional elections and itself organizes monitoring of the integrity of voting processes.