"More dialogue with Russian Federation" by Stefanie Schiffer
Stefanie Schiffer, executive director of the European Exchange gGmbH and board member of the Petersburg Dialogue writes in the "Tagesspiegel" about the Petersburg Dialogue, the role of civil societies and points out the problems between the Russian and German sides. “The Petersburg Dialogue was opened by the German side - that's good”, - says Stefanie Schiffer. “Nevertheless, the Petersburg Dialogue is much overrated. Generally, it fails to reach Russian society, repressions against independent media and NGOs go on unabated. It is of great importance to make Russian society understand and realize its interests in the rule of law.”
You can find the whole text here.
Armenian Election Monitoring Groups protest against pushing forward constitutional reform by the presidential administration
We urge the Armenian authorities not to appoint the constitutional referendum without a substantial public debate, as well as before establishing preconditions for transparent voting. We appeal to the international institutions who promotes democracy and human rights not to support the constitutional referendum in Armenia in the situation of the distrust towards the authorities or stay neutral towards the antidemocratic measures of the Armenian government. We regret the role of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe in the de facto promotion of the constitutional referendum which puts its professional reputation and impartiality into question.
Please find the whole text here.
Civic observers protest against the intransparent pushing for constitutional reform in Armenia
Armenian authorities push forward a referendum on comprehesive constitutional amendments changing the governance system from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary one. The changes would enable the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan to stay in power after the expiration of his second and last term in office and to secure the monopoly power of his polical party. The civic election observers and human rigths groups of Armenia protest against the lack of transparency and public consensus on the planned changes as well as the hasty and aggresive way of pushing for the constitutional reform.
You can find the report of Transparency International about the non-compliance of the initiated constitutional referendum with the international standards here and HCA Vanadzor Assessment օf RA Constitutional Reforms here.
The 11th Annual Conference of "Kiev Dialogue" : Between crisis and reform: human rights and justice in Ukraine
The 11th Annual Conference of "Kiev Dialogue" will cover topics such as the human rights situation in Crimea under Russian occupation, human rights issues in the South-Eastern part of Ukraine: observations and recommendations, refugee problems in Ukraine, minority and human rights under reforms of system of justice.
The aim of the conference is to draw up recommendations for improving the human rights situation in Ukraine and Crimea.
The conference will be held in cooperation with Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, International Renaissance Foundation, the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and with support of the Foreign Office.
You can find the program of the conference here.
To attend the conference please register until October 8, 2015.
Increasing Harassment of EPDE Members - Results of the EPDE side event on the HDIM of ODIHR on the 25th of September, Warsaw
The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) is alarmed about the increasing harassment of citizens' election observers in the ODIHR region. EPDE members in Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Belarus are affected by intimidation of staff members, criminal persecution, non-registration of the organisations or of labelling of the organisation as "foreign agents". Authoritarian regimes "copy and paste" laws to restrict the watchdog function of independent election observers. EPDE has organised a discussion on the Human Dimension Meeting of ODIHR in Warsaw 25 September 2015.
You may find the conclusions of the discussion here.
Shameful statement of PACE pre-electoral mission raises concern about impartiality of PACE delegates
On 21 and 22 September a PACE delegation consisting of the delegates Jordi Xuclà, Aleksandar Nikoloski, Egemen Bagis and Agustín Conde visited Azerbaijan for a pre-electoral mission ahead of the Parliamentary elections on 1 November 2015. While Azerbaijan holds today 80 political prisoners, among them Anar Mammadli, director of the independent election observation organisation EMDS and board member of EPDE, the PACE statement does not mention the critical human rights situation in the country, does not comment on the total extinction of free and independent mass media in the country, does not mention the repression against independent election observers and does not see the point to critically assess the assurement of the Azerbaijani authorities "that all necessary measures will be undertaken to guarantee the transparency of the electoral process". The pre-electoral statement of those PACE delegates raises serious doubts on the professionality if not the impartiality of the participating PACE delegates.
Read the PACE statement here.
Public discussion : 13 Hostages Of Putin: How Can We Release Them?
Savchenko, Sentsov, Kohver - these are the best known names of citizens of neighboring countries, kidnapped and falsely accused in Russia. How many more? - We do not know. How to help them?
The Kiev Dialogue, along with the Open Dialog Foundation, the EuroMaidan SOS and People in Need have an honour to invite you to a panel discussion around three key questions and areas:
- What consequences should be drawn against the people, involved in kidnapping and imprisonment of
citizens of neighboring countries in Russia?
- How to help political prisoners - when does the publicity save lives, and when does it close the road to freedom?
- How to monitor the situation of political prisoners sentenced to long-term prison sentences?R.S.V.P. - email@example.com
More information on the event you can find here.
Citizens’ election observation under pressure - Challenges for international institutions and civil society
EPDE will hold side event "Citizens' election observation under pressure" on "Human Dimension Meeting" of ODIHR on Friday, 25th of September 2015 in Warsaw, Hotel Bristol. The topic of the event is the increasing political, legal and administrative pressure against independent citizens' observers in OSCE countries. Examples from Russian Federation, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus will be presented and discussed. How international institutions and international civil society can react? How can we defend a global liberal civil society? These and further issues will be discussed during the event.
You can find the full program of the discussion here.
LOCAL ELECTIONS IN RUSSIA. GOLOS REPORT № 4
The results of the study conducted by “Golos” define certain main characteristics of the election campaign in Russia, suchas using by candidates administrative resources, budget and public funds for their campaigns, problems with financial transparency allowing many candidates and parties illegally to receive funds from abroad. The biggest beneficiaries of foreign funds are the candidates nominated by the ruling “United Russia” party and the ruling party itself. Quite often the real owners of closed joint stock companies are virtually unknown. Moreover, funds close to political parties that accumulate a significant portion of financial resources are not obliged to disclose information to voters about the real donors.
Russia: European Exchange and EPDE strongly protest against house searches at EPDE member organization GOLOS
Moscow,7 July 2015: On Tuesday morning, 7 July at 6.30 house searches have been conducted at the private flats of Grigori Melkonjanc, deputy director of the EPDE member organization GOLOS, Roman Udot, senior expert of the organization and Tatiana Troinova, director of the inter-regional foundation GOLOS. Documents and technical devices have been confiscated. Later the day the search has been continued at the office of GOLOS in Moscow city. The search was conducted by the Samara department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and officially stands in connection with the long-lasting prosecution of the southern Russian Samara branch of GOLOS.
Already in February 2015 Ludmila Kuzmina, the head of the Samara branch of GOLOS was charged with tax evasion. Tax authorities claimed that Ludmila Kuzmina should have paid taxes in the amount of 2 million Rubles (approx. 40.000 $) for a donation for the work of the regional GOLOS branch in the years 2010-2012. GOLOS declared that time these claims unlawful and has filed legal complaints. Grigori Melkonjanc, deputy director of GOLOS Moscow interprets the new searches in Moscow as an attempt to hinder the observation of the upcoming local elections in September 2015. “They don’t want us to observe on 13 September” he declared via Twitter.
Independent citizens’ election observation as conducted by EPDE member organization GOLOS is a basic right of voters to exert control over election processes. Through membership with the Council of Europe and the OSCE the Russian Federation has committed itself to guarantee these basic rights of its citizens. EPDE strongly protests the ongoing intimidation of independent citizens’ election observers in the Russian Federation through house searches, confiscation of private property, undue tax charges and legal persecution in the framework of a manipulated NGO legislation. We call on the Russian Federation to adhere to its constitutional and international commitments and to guarantee unhindered election observation of the upcoming local elections through independent citizens’ election observers