2015

EPDE Annual Conference Took Place in Berlin, 14-15 December 2015

Berlin, 16 December 2015

On 14 and 15 December 2015 a third Annual Conference of EPDE took place in Berlin. 20 top monitors from 14 EPDE member organizations participated in the conference. The election experts developed a strategy of election monitoring in the countries of the EU Eastern Partnership and in Russia for the coming years. A special guest, prof. Pippa Norris from the Harward University and the University of Sindey presented the Electoral Integrity Project.

More information on the Election Intergrity Project is available here.

"More dialogue with Russian Federation" by Stefanie Schiffer

Berlin, 21 November 2015

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.

Ukraine 2015 Local Elections: EPDE Experts Reports

Berlin, November 2015

During the Local Elections in Ukraine held on October 25 and November 15, 2015 20 EPDE experts and observers analyzed key issues of the election process. The project was founded by the European Union, the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Polish-German Cooperation Foundation.

Election experts of the EPDE report on key aspects of the Ukraine Local Elections held in October and November 2015:  new election law, campaign in Donbass, so called "fake observation" and voting oportunities for Internally Displaced Persons. Also, 15 EPDE members assess the election day proceedings.The research project was founded by the EU, the German GIZ and the German-Polish Cooperation Foundation.

See here for a series of preliminary assessments and conclusions (in Russian, English version to be published by the end of November).

CIVIL MONITORING OF ELECTRONIC PURCHASE SYSTEM ProZorro

Berlin, 13 November 2015

Transparent expenditure of public money is one of the most important factors of corruption prevention. So, due to initiative of NGOs, public authorities and businessmen the electronic purchase system ProZorro http://prozorro.org was created. This system gives an opportunity to make purchases in our state transparent and accessible for any kind of business. All of the purchases that are made in a system can be followed up in a real-time. Due to information that is placed at a web-site http://bi.prozorro.org and updates permanently civil activists have an opportunity to monitor and control purchases that were made or that are conducted right now and react to misuses. To monitor purchases and to know to which part attention is needed representatives of NGOs studied at training, that was managed by the project “Kiev Dialogue”  in Cherkasy. Representatives of Economic development and Trade Department of Cherkasy regional state administration Roman Karmannik and Olga Tolupa taught how to recognize manipulations.

Armenia: Referendum assessed as illegitimate by Citizen Observers and EPDE

Yerewan, 8 December 2015

Citizen Observer Initiative and the European Platform for Democratic Elections found an unprecedented number of violations on the December 6 Constitutional Reform. The referendum campaign was marred by massive misuse of administrative resources to campaign in favor of the constitutional changes and influencing the voting and tabulation process via control of electoral administration on the territorial and local levels. Inaccuracy of voter lists remained the most crucial issue considering the confidentiality of voter participation that leaves room for later manipulations. On the voting day, observers reported an unprecedented number of violations of the electoral law and international standards which had systemic character. Citizen observers and some of the international media reported intimidation and threats across the country. Numerous manipulations of the voter lists, violations during the voting and the vote count, as well as high number of cases of direct falsifications of results by electoral commissions influenced the final outcome of the referendum.

You can find the whole statement as PDF (EN) here.

Armenian Election Monitoring Groups protest against pushing forward constitutional reform by the presidential administration

Berlin, 8 October 2015

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

Yerewan, 5 October 2015

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

Kyiv, 4 October 2015

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

Berlin, 1 October 2015

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

Berlin, 29 September 2015

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?

Kyiv, 22 October 2015

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. - tomasz.czuwara@odfoundation.eu

More information on the event you can find here.

Citizens’ election observation under pressure - Challenges for international institutions and civil society

Berlin, 25 September 2015

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

08.09.2015

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.

Please read further information on the topic here in English and Russian language.

Russia: European Exchange and EPDE strongly protest against house searches at EPDE member organization GOLOS

7.06.2015

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

Europäischer Austausch sucht einen Praktikant/In

Von 15. August 2015 bis 15. Januar 2016

Der Europäische Austausch gGmbH hat eine Praktikumsstelle zur Mitarbeit bei der »Europäischen Plattform für Demokratische Wahlen« zu besetzen.

Aufgabenbereiche des Praktikanten/ der Praktikantin:

- Assistenz bei der Ausrichtung von Fortbildungsveranstaltungen und internationalen Konferenzen der “EPDE”

- Assistenz bei der internationalen Öffentlichkeitsarbeit der Plattform durch Datenbankpflege, Webseitenentwicklung, Newsletterversand

- Assistenz bei Projektverwaltung 

Bewerbungen - nur per email – (Lebenslauf und Motivationsschreiben, ggf Zeugnisse und Referenzen in einem PDF Dokument) schicken Sie bitte bis 10.07.2015 an Schiffer@european-exchange.org

Weitere Information finden Sie bitte hier

Lunch-Debate "Fighting Corruption In Ukraine: Hurdles And Challenges"

Brussels, 23 June 2015

European Exchange together with Kiev Dialogue and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group organises a lunch-debate devoted to the issue of the struggle against corruption in Ukraine. 

Which hurdles and challenges has the new Ukrainian government encountered and, more importantly, how can they be overcome? How can the EU better support Ukraine in fighting corruption and establishing transparency and accountability of governmental work towards the society? 

These and further issues will be discussed by leading experts from the EU and Ukraine.

The event will be held in English. Registration is requested by June 21, 2015 under hutnyk@european-exchange.org

The full program of the discussion you can find here

EPDE CONDUCTED A MEDIA AND PR TRAINING FOR CIVIC ELECTION OBSERVERS

Berlin, 1-2 June 2015

EPDE, of which European Exchange holds the secretariat, in support of the Council of Europe’s Electoral Assistance and Census program and the European Commission conducted a media and PR training aiming at strengthening the skills of media representatives when dealing with international mass media and other relevant international stakeholders. 

The training gathered twenty PR and media specialists from the EPDE partner organisations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. 

Please find more information here

Public Discussion "New Geopolitics Instead of Cold War? Ukraine, Russia and the West"

Cologne, 11 June 2015

The University of Cologne, Main Building, Lecture Hall II, Albert-Magnus-Platz 1, 50931

European Exchange invites you to a public discussion focusing on the new geopolitical strategies in the framework of the war in Eastern Ukraine. What are Putin's objectives in this war? Was the reaction of the EU to the armed conflict in Ukraine adequate? These and further issues will be adressed with leading experts for Ukraine, Russia and the EU.

More information on the event you can find here 

Please, confirm your attendance until 9 June 2015 per email to: hutnyk@european-exchange.org

EPDE observed presidential election in Poland on 10 May 2015

Poland, May 10, 2015

EPDE started its observation on 7 May 2015. The observers group included 40 observers from Germany, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Russia and Sweden and was deployed to Warsaw, Crakow, Lublin, Lodz and Szczecin. The observers met with authorities, election administration, candidates' election staff, local civic monitoring organizations and other election observation missions. On 10 May EPDE observed the voting and vote counting in approx. 120 polling stations in different regions of Poland. The observers provided the Polish authorities and the election administration with some recommendations concerning the election day procedures.

Please find the press release in English, Polish and Russian.

EPDE: Psychiatry instrumentalised to silence Russian election observers

Berlin, May 4, 2015

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), of which European exchange holds the secretariate, has issued a statement today strongly protesting severe harrassment and intimidation of election observers from the Russian election observer organisation GOLOS. Ludmila Kuzmina, leader of the Samara’ regional branch of EPDEmember organization GOLOS, Russia, has been threatened to undergo a psychiatric examination by the prosecutor's office in April 2015. This sort of repression has been often applied in the late Soviet Union against dissidents.

For more information access here

Round Table "Weapons, Sanctions or Diplomacy?- The Ways of Deescalating the Conflict in Eastern Ukraine"

Berlin, February 27, 2015

European Exchange in collaboration with German Council on Foreign Relations organised a Round Table aiming at elaborating the ways of deescalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine with leading experts from the EU and Ukraine which took place on February 27, 2015.

The participants of the Round Table agreed upon the necessity of the withdrawal of heavy weaponry, immediate release of prisoners and restoration of control on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Nonetheless some questions remained unanswered. Will Russia stick to the Minsk Agreement? Will the conflict escalate? The experts emphasised the responsibilities all sides of the conflict bare in addressing the issue. The OSCE and the EU should also increase its control and engagement in solving the conflict.

Please find the report on the Round Table here

Round Table "Between Propaganda and Counterpropaganda: "

Berlin, February 19, 2015

European Exchange together with the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum organised a Round Table with experts from Ukraine, Russia and the EU aiming at developing new strategies to combat propaganda in the European information space, which took place in Heinrich Böll Stiftung on December 17, 2014.

All participants of the Round Table concluded that contemporary media faces a double challenge: to counter disinformation and to stop the erosion of public trust in general, as well as to create alternative channels of information for Russian speaking audiences in the post-Soviet countries and the three Baltic states.

The minutes of the Round Table are now available here (English version) and here (Russian version).

Freedom for Anar Mammadli-no preferential treatment for Ilham Aliev

Foto: Franziska Senkel, Berlin

Berlin, January 21, 2015

European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) protested on the occasion of Ilham Aliev's visit to Germany on January 21, 2015 against the suppression of civil society and democratic opposition in Azerbaijan. Together with Reporters Without Borders, Lilia Shibanova (GOLOS, Russia) and Ales Beliacki (Viasna, Belarus), EPDE organized a vigil in support for Anar Mammadli and other political prisoners in Azerbaijan  in front of the German Chancellory in Berlin.

For more information access here

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