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Яндекс цитирования


25.09.2017, понедельник. Московское время 12:31


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Foreign (International) Observers

Under the Russian law, a foreign (international) observer is an individual representing a foreign or international organization and who has the right to observe campaigning and voting in elections and referenda held in the Russian Federation pursuant to the existing legal provisions (Article 2, Part 25 of the Federal Law on Basic Guarantees). Under this definition, the given class of public observers could be subdivided into the following two groups:

1. International Russian observers - Russian nationals representing either foreign or international organizations.

2. Foreign observers - foreign nationals speaking for the aforementioned organizations.

These two groups feature the following distinctions:

    Foreign nationals are required to secure a visa to visit Russia;

    Foreign nationals are less equipped (except for Russian émigrés) to read the local political scene; they usually have difficulty understanding local traditions and legislation. Hence, they are easier to be deceived;

    Violations of the rights of the foreign observer could result in an international scandal or create a bad perception of the elections or referendum conducted. The local authorities refrain from breaching the law, let alone prosecuting foreign nationals.

Foreign observers are welcomed by all public (particularly, local) organizations working to conduct fair elections or referendums.

We hold that the principal objective of the public monitoring of elections is to prevent massive breaches of law which lead to falsified election results, with victory being unlawfully awarded to a wrong candidate or election association (bloc). This objective could be achieved should the efforts of numerous observers be brought together and should the election fraud results be accumulated and investigated by a single processing and coordinating center.

Some Russian public organizations believe that foreign observers are difficult to work with. Judging from our experience this has not been the case. Foreign public organizations are sending their observers equipped with different observation techniques and standards of free and fair elections. However, both sides could benefit from each other. While a Russian-origin non-political organization can concurrently collect observation materials through the use of domestic approaches and gather data with the help of foreign techniques, international observers are free to pursue their own tasks, report on the breaches of election legislation and obtain certified copies of election documents from relevant election commissions. As a consequence, everybody comes out the winner. A good example to this effect is served by the cooperative effort pursued by the OSCE observers, joined by observers from the all-Russian public association «For Fair Elections» and Chechen monitors from the «Tsena Kharzhamash» movement in the 1997 presidential elections in Chechnya.

For an individual to act as an foreign (international) observer, he needs to have a formal invitation from one of the following agencies: the President of the Russian Federation; the Federation Council; the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; the Government of the Russian Federation; the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation; or the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. This invitation could be issued following the official release of the decision on calling the elections.

Suggestions on issuing the relevant invitations could come from international and national governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as from individuals of high standing in the area of protection of human rights and freedoms. The State Duma of the Russian Federation sends out formal invitations in keeping with the suggestions filed in by the electoral associations and blocs with factions in the State Duma (see Article 30, Clause 2 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 2 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

Those invitations provide the grounds for prospective foreign observers to secure permission to travel to the Russian Federation (see Article 30, Clause 1 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 1 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

The next phase in an effort to secure the status of a foreign (international) observer is to get accredited with the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation issues each foreign (international) observer a formal certificate on the basis of documents certifying the availability of the pertinent invitations. This certificate authorizes a foreign (international) observer to pursue his activities in the course of election campaign and on election day (see Article 30, Clause 3 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 3 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

The powers of a foreign (international) observer begin with his accreditation with the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation and terminate with the general election results officially made public (see Article 30, Clause 3 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 3of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

Foreign (international) observers perform their tasks and functions on their own and independently. The accredited foreign (international) observers depend either on their own resources or those provided by their organizations for the exercise of their duties (see Article 30, Clause 6 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 6 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

During their stay in the Russian Federation foreign (international) observers are under protection of the Russian laws. All election commissions, federal bodies of state authority and bodies of state authority of Subjects of the Russian Federation are required to offer necessary assistance to foreign (international) observers (see Article 30, Clause 7 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections: Article 22, Clause 7 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

Following election day foreign (international) observers are entitled to share their opinions of the local election legislation, election campaigning and election administration; hold press conferences and appeal to the media (see Article 30, clause 8 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 8 of the Federal Law on Presidential elections).

Foreign (international) observers have the right to meet with candidates or registered candidates; authorized representatives of registered candidates, electoral associations or electoral blocs (see Article 30, clause 9 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, clause 9 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

Foreign (international) observers shall not take advantage of their status in order to engage in activities unrelated to observation of election campaigning and election administration (see Article 30, Clause 10 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article30, Clause 10 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

Should a foreign (international) observer breach any provisions of the Russian federal law or any universally accepted principles or rules of the international law, his accreditation to work in Russia shall be revoked by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (see Article 30, Clause 11 of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 22, Clause 11 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

The big advantage of the status held by a foreign (international) observer is that he is authorized to attend sessions convened by election commissions of any level: precinct, territorial, district, Subject of the Russian Federation or the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.

The rights and obligations of foreign or international observers (except for the aforementioned specifics) coincide with those applicable to regular domestic election observers (see Table 4 and elsewhere throughout the book).

In closing, we would like to offer a tentative plan for foreign (international) observers to pursue their activities intended to cover all-Russian elections.

1. Schedule meetings with the regional candidates, authorized agents of the relevant electoral associations (blocs), representatives from other political and non-political (human rights, women's, youth, election observer) organizations; discus the nature of the ongoing election campaign, and track the scene on the election day.

Based on your own information, pick out election precincts, territorial and district election commissions worthy of special attention.

2. On the eve of election day visit selected precinct election commissions to check to see if they are fully prepared. Pay special attention to the design and number of ballot boxes and voting booths, spots assigned to the prospective observers (the purpose being to find out if an observer could have unobstructed view of commissioners' desks, voting booths and ballot boxes) (see Article 29, Clause 11(e) of the Federal Law on State Duma Elections; Article 21, Clause 11 (e), Article 62, Clause 3 of the Federal Law on Presidential Elections).

Should an opportunity arise, visit early elections to get some fresh experience by election day.

3. On election day, make a round of the selected election precincts and, ideally, by 7:30 p.m. arrive at the election precinct chosen to be covered through the tabulation of the votes. Once the vote tallies have been completed (around 10 p.m. - 1 a.m.), accompany the precinct election commissioners to the relevant territorial election commission to see how the precinct-level protocols are processed and how the election returns are finalized. After the territorial election commission completes its effort (between 03-05 a.m. the next day) and should you still have energy to burn, accompany the relevant territorial election commissioner to the pertinent constituency election commission to check and see how the election results for the given constituency are determined.

A team of foreign (international) observers would be best advised to split into smaller groups with each one committed to monitor how the vote tally task is done by no more than two election commissions of different level.

For the closing stage of the monitoring effort, some of the foreign (international) observers could set off (between 03-05 p.m. the next day) to visit the election commission of the given Subject of the Russian Federation where the political party lists tallies for the given region are supposed to be completed.

Foreign (international) observers should best use his right to secure copies of election documents. This way a foreign (international) observer will come to know the specifics of operation in the key elements of the Russian electoral system.

Before writing a report on elections in Russia, a foreign (international) observer should preferably gain some knowledge of the appeals sent in by the relevant candidates, electoral associations (blocs), observers or regular voters on violations of existing election laws. Some of the appeals of that sort would be attached to the relevant election commission protocols and are readily available to the observers in the form of copies. It would be good to check and make sure if this kind of breaches have been massive enough to sway the vote. Then, foreign (international) observers are advised to again meet with the candidates, authorized agents of the relevant election associations (blocs) representatives from public organizations, who happened to observe the elections, and look at their evidence on the election law breaches. Though it might take a few days, the effort comes to be particularly relevant (the Russian law providing opportunities to that effect).

Foreign (international) observers enjoy rather high authority. Sometimes it is sad to see foreign (international) observers conclude that elections were free and fair, and within a matter of months the election results in the given territory (or election precinct) come to be invalidated following a court case. Should they work closely with the local observers, foreign (international) observers would be best equipped to avoid such flops. This kind of cooperation could cover the entire observation effort, providing the given foreign (international) observer should pick out a guide or facilitator from amongst activists speaking for a local NGO.

In the conclusion, we would like to call upon the international organizations with Russian public participation to grow the effort to engage local NGO activists, well aware of the local scene and legislation, and have them operate as international observers in Russian provinces. Should this strategy be applied, larger numbers of international observers could be engaged to put up a better job at the same cost.

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