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06.08.2020, . 14:20

Memo for Foreign (International) Observers

Publication of the Central Election Commission
of the Russian Federation

Translation Provided by the Moscow Office
of the International Foundation for Election Systems

Participation of foreign (international) observers in the monitoring of the preparation and administration of the election of the President of the Russian Federation is one of the important provisions of openness and transparency of the election of the head of the Russian state.

To show that the importance of foreign (international) observers as independent participants of the election process is recognized at all stages of the election campaign, and in order to structure legal provisions of their activities, the Federal Law On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation contains a separate article that regulates the activity of foreign (international) observers.

Article 22. Foreign (International) Observers

1. Foreign (international) observers shall receive a permission for entry into the Russian Federation in a procedure established by a federal law and, if they have an appropriate invitation, shall be accredited by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.

2. Invitations may be extended by the President of the Russian Federation, the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation after official publication of a decision to call the election of the President of the Russian Federation. Requests for invitations may be submitted by international and national government and non-government organizations as well as private persons who enjoy high prestige in the field of the protection of human and civil rights and freedoms. The State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation shall extend invitations in accordance with the proposals of each electoral association, electoral bloc which has a faction in the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

3. The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation shall issue a foreign (international) observer a certificate of a standard form on the basis of the documents to be presented by him/her to confirm that he/she has been invited by any of the bodies or persons listed in Clause 2 of this Article. This certificate shall allow the foreign (international) observer to carry on his/her activity during the preparation and conduct of the election of the President of the Russian Federation.

4. The activity of foreign (international) observers shall be regulated by this Federal Law, other federal laws.

5. The term of powers of a foreign (international) observer shall begin from the day on which the observer receives accreditation at the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation and shall end on the day on which the general results of the election of the President of the Russian Federation are published.

6. A foreign (international) observer shall perform his/her tasks and functions independently, as he/she sees fit. The material and financial support for the activity of a foreign (international) observer shall be provided for the account of the organization which sent the observer, or for his/her own account.

7. During his/her stay in the territory of the Russian Federation a foreign (international) observer shall be under the state patronage of the Russian Federation. Election commissions, federal bodies of state power and bodies of state power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation shall render him/her the necessary assistance.

8. After voting day foreign (international) observers may express their opinion about the electoral laws of the Russian Federation and the preparation and conduct of the election of the President of the Russian Federation, hold press conferences and apply to the mass media.

9. Foreign (international) observers may meet with candidates, registered candidates and their agents, authorized representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs.

10. Foreign (international) observers shall not take advantage of their status to carry on activities unrelated to monitoring the course of the election campaign, the preparation and conduct of the election of the President of the Russian Federation.

11. The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation may revoke accreditation of a foreign (international) observer if he/she violates federal laws or the generally accepted principles and norms of international law.

Taking into account considerable interest shown by the international community towards political processes taking place in the Russian Federation, in particular, conduct of free, periodical and mandatory elections of the President of RF - a head of the Russian state, a guarantor of the Constitution of RF, rights and freedom of citizens, we are bringing to your attention this Guide which was developed on the basis of the current Russian electoral legislation and available practical experience of foreign (international) observers. The Guide will help foreign (international) observers to understand the legislation on elections in the Russian Federation in a proper way and to be aware of their rights and obligations when accomplishing an important and challenging observation mission.

A foreign (international) observer is a person representing a foreign or an international organization, who acquires the right to monitor the preparation and administration of elections in the Russian Federation in a procedure established by the Federal Law On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation.

1. Foreign (international) observers receive a permission for the entry into the Russian Federation in a procedure established by the Federal Law On the Procedure for the Entry Into and Exit From the Russian Federation. For observers from CIS countries and some other foreign states which concluded appropriate bilateral agreements with the Russian Federation, a border pass shall be visa free, in which case no permission for entry into Russia is required.

Accreditation of foreign (international) observers is granted by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation in accordance with Clause 1 of the aforementioned Article upon their application and on the basis of an appropriate invitation to participate in the elections as a foreign (international) observer issued by the state bodies and officers of the Russian Federation authorized to issue such invitations by the Federal Law. No other documents (letters, covering documents, power of attorney, etc.) are needed from the sending organization.

2. Clause 2 of this Article establishes lists the state bodies and officers of the Russian Federation that have the right to extend invitations for participation in the monitoring of the elections as foreign (international) observers. They include the President of the Russian Federation, the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation, and the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.

Invitations from the above mentioned state bodies and officers of the Russian Federation may be issued only after official publication of a decision to call the election of the President of the Russian Federation.

Invitations for participation in the monitoring of the elections as foreign (international) observers addressed to international and national government and non-government organizations as well as private persons who enjoy high prestige in the field of the protection of human and civil rights and freedoms may be issued by the President of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation. The State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation will extend invitations in accordance with the proposals of each electoral association, electoral bloc which has a faction in the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation may extend invitations to electoral bodies of foreign countries as well as foreign (international) organizations which specialize in electoral legislation and elections.

At the same time, the Law specifies organizations and persons that can ask the appropriate state bodies and officers of the Russian Federation to issue invitations for participation of foreign (international) observers in the monitoring of the election. These are international and national government and non-government organizations as well as private persons who enjoy high prestige in the field of the protection of human and civil rights and freedoms.

3. A certificate of the established form is a document that authorizes foreign (international) observers to monitor the preparation and administration of the election. The form and description of the certificate of a foreign (international) observer are developed and approved by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. To receive a certificate of a foreign (international) observer, a person who got an invitation from any of the bodies or officers indicated in Clause 2 of this Article must submit to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation the following documents: an application for accreditation as a foreign (international) observer, a copy of the appropriate invitation, and an identity paper. The certificate of a foreign (international) observer will authorize a foreign (international) observer to carry on his/her activity during the time period from the date of accreditation up to the day of official publication of the results of the election of the President of the Russian Federation. The day of official publication of the election results shall be the date determined with regard to the repeat voting for the election of the President of the Russian Federation. Hence, the powers of a foreign (international) observer will be valid for the period of repeat election, and, in the event of repeat election, no additional accreditation will be needed. Foreign (international) observers will have the right to carry out their election monitoring activity at any stage of the election campaign including repeat election of the President of the Russian Federation.

4. Under Clause 4 of this Article, the activity of a foreign (international) observer is regulated by the Federal Law On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation as well as the Federal Law On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in the Referendum. This means that foreign (international) observers will be granted appropriate powers provided by the Federal legislation, that entitle them to:

    be present in electoral precincts, including voting premises, from the time the precinct election commission starts its work on voting day, including early voting day, up to the time when the information is received that the higher election commission has adopted a protocol of voting returns, and at vote re-counting. Electoral precincts formed in military units, closed administrative territorial localities, hospitals, sanatoria, recreational centers, pre-trial detention centers may be visited only in accordance with the procedures established by federal laws and other normative acts of the Russian Federation that regulate visits to these organizations;

    be present on the premises of territorial election commissions, commissions of the subjects of the Russian Federation and the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation when voting returns and election results are being established and protocols of voting returns and election results are being drawn up and also when votes are being re-counted;

    watch issuance of ballots to voters, counting of the number of voters entered on the voter lists, counting of ballots issued to voters and cancelled ballots;

    before the precinct election commission directly starts counting of votes be present when the aggregate data are announced concerning the voter list for the federal district and inspect the voter list after it has been certified by the signature of the chairperson, deputy chairperson or secretary of the precinct election commission and by the commission's seal;

    be present when votes are being counted and watch the votes being counted from a distance and under conditions which allow them to see the contents of ballots and observe the actions of the members of the precinct election commission; inspect any marked or unmarked ballot when votes are being counted;

    watch the election commission drawing up the protocols of voting returns and other documents from the time when the precinct election commission starts its work on voting day, including early voting day, up to the time when the information is received that the higher election commission has adopted the protocol of voting returns and also when votes are being re-counted at polling stations;

    inspect the protocols of voting returns of the precinct election commission and the protocols of voting returns and election results of other election commissions where the observers are present; make copies or receive from the election commission copies of the said protocols and appended documents and copies of other documents received or drawn up by the election commission on voting day, including early voting day. The election commission must certify the said copies or issue certified copies of the said documents to foreign (international) observers;

    after the end of voting be present when unused ballots are being counted and cancelled and the number of unused and cancelled ballots and absentee certificates is announced in accordance with Clause 8 of Article 64 of the Federal Law On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation;

    inspect cancelled ballots and absentee certificates under the supervision of voting members of the precinct election commission;

    meet with candidates, registered candidates and their agents, authorized representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs;

    after voting day (in accordance with the principle of non-interference of observers in the electoral process) express in public their opinion about the electoral legislation of the Russian Federation, the preparation and administration of the elections, hold press conferences and apply to mass media;

    after the voting results are announced, inform appropriate election commissions about the observance of electoral rights of the citizens of the Russian Federation and forward to them their recommendations about the ways to improve the electoral legislation and practices of its application.

    The Federal legislation does not provide for any other activities of foreign (international) observers except those mentioned above. Moreover, according to Clauses 10 and 11 of this Article, foreign (international) observers must not take advantage of their status to carry on activities unrelated to monitoring the course of the election campaign, the preparation and administration of the election of the President of the Russian Federation. If a foreign (international) observer violates federal laws or the generally accepted principles and norms of international law, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation may revoke his/her accreditation. In this case, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation must inform about this decision the state bodies or officers that issued invitations to theses persons for participation in the monitoring of the election as foreign (international) observers.

5. In accordance with Clause 6 of this Article, a foreign (international) observer carries on his/her activity independently as he/she sees fit. This means that on voting day a foreign (international) observer may visit electoral precincts without any special escort or without obtaining a prior permission for his/her actions in the monitoring of the election from the given election commission.

The material and financial support for the activity of foreign (international) observers (transportation, accommodation, communications, etc.) will be provided for the account of the country which sent them or for their own account. A foreign (international) observer will not be entitled to claim reimbursement of these expenses from the state bodies or election commissions of the Russian Federation.

6. In accordance with Clause 7 of this Article, during his/her stay in the territory of the Russian Federation a foreign (international) observer will be under the state patronage of the Russian Federation. This means that the Russian Federation will take all measures stipulated by the federal legislation for protection of the rights of foreign (international) observers as well as all necessary measures in relation to those persons who infringe the rights of foreign (international) observers, including prosecution of such persons under the laws of the Russian Federation.

Election commissions, federal bodies of the state power and bodies of the state power of the subjects of the Russian Federation must render foreign (international) observers the necessary assistance, which means that they must ensure appropriate conditions for foreign (international) observers to perform their activities in a free and independent manner.

Lists of foreign (international) observers monitoring the course of voting and vote counting in the election commissions will be made up by the appropriate election commissions on the basis of the certificates of foreign (international) observers to be produced by the observers.

The aforementioned lists are kept, respectively, with the secretary of the precinct election commission in secure premises until the commission completes its work, with the secretary of the territorial election commission in secure premises until the commission completes its work, and in case if the territorial election commission works on the permanent basis the list must be kept until it is transferred to the election commission of the subject of the Russian Federation after official publication of the general results of the election of the President of the Russian Federation, and with the secretary of the election commission of the subject of the Russian Federation. The election commission of the subject of the Russian Federation must submit a certified copy of the list of foreign (international) observers to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.






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