2013

FREE ANAR MAMMADLI!

Baku, December 16, 2013: On December 16th Anar Mammadli, chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre, Baku (EMDS), and board member of EPDE has been arrested and imprisoned for a three months pre-trial detention through the Nasimin District Court in Baku. EMDS has carried out independent observation of the last Presidential elections in Azerbaijan in October 2013 and has published a critical assessment of the election process. EMDS is one of the most professional and recognised human rights organisations in Azerbaijan. EPDE is worried that the arrest of Anar Mammadli and the investigations of EMDS led by the Prosecutor general’s office since October 31st, have political motives, and are a reaction to the critical statements made by EMDS after the recent Presidential elections in Azerbaijan. Read more here.

PUBLIC DISCUSSION: POLITICAL PERSECUTION, FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND DATA PROTECTION IN UKRAINE

Berlin, 18th November: On Monday, 18th November a Public Discussion about „Political Persecution, Freedom of Information and Data Protection in Ukraine” took place in Berlin. Yevhen Zakharov (Executive Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group), Oleksandr Pavlichenko (Head of the Unit on Access to Public Information, Ukrainian Ombudsman Office), Vsevolod Rechytskyi (Constitutional Expert of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group), Viola von Cramon (Former Members of Parliament, Alliance 90/The Greens), Susan Stewart (Sitfung Politik und Wissenschaft) and Stefanie Schiffer (European Exchange) discussed  about actual human rights situation in Ukraine and background of lawmaking processes around the Tymoshennko case.

SUMMER SCHOOL AND OBSERVATION OF THE GERMAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION

Berlin, 27th August 2013: From September 19-25, 2013 eighteen EPDE election experts will observe the German Parliamentary elections and will attend a summer school on election observation techniques. Topics as mathematical-statistical analysis of election results, electoral legislation and election systems will be on the agenda of the summer school. Meetings with German election experts and election administration as well as the German Foreign Ministry will be held. The Summer School and Observation of the German Parliamentary elections will be organized by European Exchange (Germany).

NAVALNY SENTENCED - URLASHOV SACKED: BAD PERSPECTIVES FOR SELF GOVERNMENT IN RUSSIA

Berlin, 18th July 2013: Aleksej Navalny, Moscow city mayor candidate of the opposition Parnas party has been condemned to five years in prison by the Leninski district court in Kirov. The judges found Navalny guilty of embezzling 400.000 € from a timber firm while advising the Kirov gouvernor in 2009. According to independent experts and lawyers the conviction has to be assessed as a political decision. Aleksej Navalny has become famous as a harsh critic of the endemic corruption among leading groups of the Russian government and has published a series of articles and research about corrupt practice in today's Russia. According to Russian legislation Aleksej Navalny will be banned from participation in the Moscow city mayor elections if the judgement will come into effect. The fairness of the upcoming elections of Moscow city mayor which will be held on September 8th is thereby seriously put under question. European Exchange recalls a similar case where the elected city mayor of Jaroslaw, Evgenij Urlashov who won the seat of city mayor over the candidate of Edinnaya Rossija in April 2012 has been deprived of power by court decision of the Moscow based Basmanny court on July 18th 2013. Evgenij Urlashov is now held under investigative custody in Matroskaja Tishina in Moscow. European Exchange is concerned about the restriction of the voters will which are connected with these court decisions in the Navalny and Urlashov cases.

EU-RUSSIA CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM CALLS FOR MORE SOLIDARITY WITH THE CIVIL SOCIETY IN RUSSIA

Berlin, 26th June 2013: European Exchange supports the initiative endorsed by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum aiming at strenthening the support by the western democratic community towards the civil society in Russia. Please read here the Policy Paper "European Solidarity for Russia's Civil Society" and visit here the official website of the EU-Russia Civil Siciiety Forum for further details.

RUSSIAN EPDE MEMBER GOLOS FACES TO BE SHUT DOWN – EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS ALARMED ON THE CRACKDOWN ON RUSSIAN CIVIL SOCIETY

Brussels, 15 May 2013:The Association GOLOS and other leading Russian NGOs have been declared „foreign agents“ in the past few weeks and are facing now to be shut down. On May 15th in the European Parliament in Brussels a public discussion on the crackdown of the Russian civil society was held on invitation of Werner Schulz. MEP, Green Faction.

Lilia Shibanova, Association GOLOS, Yuri Dzhibladze, Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Stefanie Schiffer, European Exchange, Michael Pulch, EEAS and Jean Louis Ville, European Commission, discussed the actual situation, which emerged with the massive application of the Russian NGO law “on foreign agents” and the possible reactions by the European Institutions. The participants agreed that the crack-down on Russian civil society organisations is of highest priority for the EU–Russia relations, that the ongoing pressure on Russian NGOs is contradictory to Russia’s international obligations in the framework of the Council of Europe, the UN and the OSCE, and that the European Institutions would assess all legal opportunities how to further support the oppressed Russian civil society in the new difficult circumstances. The upcoming EU-Russia summit in Ekaterinburg on June 3-4 represents an important opportunity for the EU to raise these concerns directly with the Russian leaders. The Association GOLOS, Russian founding member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections has been declared “foreign agent” and is facing its closure.

Read more here.

DISCUSSION: "RUSSIAN (CIVIL) SOCIETY - A YEAR LATER. PROSPECTS OF EUROPEAN CIVIL SOCIETY COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA"

Berlin, 13th May 2013: On 13th May 2013 a disussion "Russian (civil) society - a year later. Prospects of European civil society cooperation with Russia" will be held in the German Bundestag.

Since the summer of 2012, the Russian civil society is under increasing pressure. All over the country NGOs experience inspections and raids, the legal proceeding against the opposition activist Navalny was opened. Above all, GOLOS the association which observes elections and the human right organization Memorial are in oppression. GOLOS is the first Russian organization against which the controversial foreign agents law is applied. Meanwhile, other regional NGOs are accused of failing to register as a foreign.

Date: Monday, May 13, 2013 18:00 - 20:30 clock
Value: Bundestag, Paul Loebe Building, Room 4200 Entrance Paul Loebe House West, Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 1, 10117 Berlin

Registration: Please register until 9 May with Name, Surname and Date of Birth to andreas.schockenhoff.ma03@bundestag.de.

SEMINAR RUSSIA 'S CIVIL SOCIETY UNDER PRESSURE - WHAT THE EU SHOULD DO

Brussels, 8th May 2013: On 15th May 2013 a seminar will be held in the European Parliament. The topic is: Russia's Civil Society under pressure - what the EU should do.

Russian civil society is today under unprecedented pressure from the side of Russian state agencies. The European Union must set a clear signal of support and solidarity with Russia’s emerging civil society. Actual EC funding for Russian NGOs does by far not meet the actual capacities of Russian NGOs and is not adequate to the political need for the support of democratic movements in the country. EC funding for Russian NGOs must be increased significantly. But we should also think about how to improve awareness raising, political support, speed up visa facilitation and more.The Seminar is organised by Werner Schulz MEP.

Please find more information here. If you need an entrance badge to the EP please register until 13 May to werner.schulz-office(at)europarl.europa.eu

"KIEV DIALOGUE" 2013

Kyiv, 7th March 2013: On 5-6th March 2013 the ninth "Kiev dialogue" on "Gender Policy: Successes- Failures- Prospects" took place in the President Hotel in Kiev. Among the prominent speakers were Ms. Rebecca Harms, MEP, President of the Greens / EFA  Group in the European Parliament, Brussels, Ms. June Zeitlin, Special Representative of the OSCE, Chair-in-Office on Gender Issues, Washington,  Ms. Dr. Irmgard Schwaetzer, Former Federal Minister of Germany, Lidiya Drozdowa, Deputy Minister of Social Affairs of Ukraine, Lilia Grinevich, MP, Chairwoman of the Committee on Science and Education, Olena (Feodoriwna) Bondarenko, former MP, Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender Issues, Anka Feldhusen, Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy Kiev, Yuri Andruchovych, Ukrainian writer, poet, essayist and patron of the "Kiev dialogues".
The conference dealt with the issue of gender equality in politics and society and with such topics as bio-politics and anti-discrimination politics, gender aspects in education and public discourse, domestic and gender-based violence, parenthood and career, reproductive rights of women and demographic crisis.
The aim of the conference was to develop strategies and recommendations to optimize the Ukrainian and European gender policy.

The conference was held with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the International Renaissance Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Greens / EFA Group in the European Parliament, the German Foreign Office and the OSCE . More information you can find here

EPDE STATEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA, 18 FEBRUARY 2013

Yerevan, 18 February 2013: The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) has directed a delegation consisting of four experts of the EPDE member organisations Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Swedish International Liberal Centre SILC, Sweden, Association GOLOS, Russia and European Exchange, Germany to the Presidential elections on 18 February in Armenia. The delegation was granted accreditation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia on 16 February and conducted observation of election-day in Yerevan and Lori region. The aim of the EPDE delegation’s visit was to get an insight in the election process and to draft recommendations for the further development of civic election observation in Armenia. This Statement is based on the findings of the EPDE delegation to Armenia from 14 - 20 February 2013 and on the observations of EPDE’s Armenian member organisation Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor HCAV. The elections were characterised by a lack of political competition, low-key campaigning and a relatively low presence of partisan election observers in precincts on election-day. This has to be explained with the decision of the three main opposition parties not to nominate their candidates for the Presidential elections and consequently not to deploy their proxies to the election precincts.

Full report is available here

EPDE PROTESTS DETENTION OF CIVIC ACTIVISTS IN AZERBAIJAN

Baku, 13 February 2013: The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) condemns yesterday’s incident in Khamaz, Azerbaijan, where a training conducted by representatives of EPDE’s member organization Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) was disrupted by the local police.

"This incident contributes to further raising our concern ahead of the scheduled 16 October 2013 Presidential elections in Azerbaijan", Stefanie Schiffer, coordinator of the EPDE says in a statement today. – "Civic participation in the election process, including training of citizens, are necessary requisites in democratic elections, and this kind of intimidation is unacceptable".

On February 12th 2013, the civil society activists Gunay Ismayilova and Javid Nabiyev, both representing Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) experienced police harassment and were detained while they were holding a training on citizen participation in public policy in Khachmaz region of Azerbaijan. The two now risk further investigation and criminal persecution.

Very recently legitimate protesters were arrested in Ismailly and in Baku. Ilgar Mammadov, a chairman of the opposition REAL Movement and potential presidential candidate as well as Tofig Yagublu, the deputy chairman of opposition Musavat Party were arrested and accused of calling the Ismailly residents to mass disorder.

EPDE demands an immediate end to the harassment of civil and political activists who stand for free and democratic elections in Azerbaijan, and calls on Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee freedom of association and freedom of assembly in the country.

PRESENTATION OF EUROPEAN PLATFORM FOR DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS (EPDE) AT THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN BRUSSELS

Brussels, 31 January 2013: “Civic observation is a powerful instrument for citizens’ control over electoral processes and deserves the attention and the support of the European institutions. We wish the best success for the newly established “European Platform for Democratic Elections” said Werner Schulz, Member of the European Parliament, during the presentation of the EPDE at the European Parliament on Wednesday January 30th.

The platform was established in December 2012 in Warsaw by the twelve most experienced civil society organisations conducting or supporting civic election observation in the six Eastern Partnership countries and in the Russian Federation. EPDE will provide peer learning and exchange of methodologies for the detection of election falsification. “The platform will assist its members in improving their observation techniques and disseminating their findings to the international community” explains Berit Lindeman from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. “The example of Ukraine shows that even in a situation where the quality of the election process deteriorates, citizens’ observation of electoral processes can contribute to more transparency during the elections” comments Sergiy Tkachenko from the Committee of Voters of Ukraine.

Among the planned activities for 2013 are experts’ missions and information campaigns during the upcoming Presidential elections in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. EPDE is not planning to organise fully-fledged international civic election observation missions but rather to train and to encourage domestic election observers in those European countries that restrict their citizens’ rights to democratic elections.

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