14 July 2021
by Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of Golos, a movement for the defence of voters’ rights and winner of the Moscow Helsinki Group award
This decision speaks volumes. Russia’s Central Election Commission today cancelled live video broadcasts from polling stations at the State Duma elections. The rapid degradation of elections has gone as far as the system of video broadcasts from polling stations. The system was introduced in 2012 at the initiative of Vladimir Putin. Since then, internet broadcasts on polling day have been available to all on the principle of “look, we have nothing to hide.”
This was a big step forward: video observers were able to catch out carousel voting, ballot stuffing, vote count fraud and other irregularities. Video evidence was there for all to see. Traditionally, the Central Election Commission’s Video Surveillance Procedures provided two portals, one with private access and one with open access.
The service portal (for election commissions, parties and candidates) is an online information resource with a corresponding domain name. It is a private access resource designed to monitor the operability of equipment in preparation for the election and, on election day, to view video recordings in real time, as well as to work with video recordings as they are stored.
The broadcast portal (for all voters) is an online information resource with a corresponding domain name. It is publicly accessible and designed for viewing live video recordings on election day.
For the coming State Duma elections, the Central Election Commission has abolished the Open Access Broadcasting Portal. This decision is nothing less than an attempt to hide the events that will take place over three days and two nights at the polling stations from the public . They are clearly protecting themselves from the video observers that will document the falsifications which will once again circulate around the internet. So now we are being shown a new logic of “don’t look, we have something to hide.”
It is amazing how far the degradation has gone. We now compare many issues with the so-called dark days of Churov. Under Churov, video broadcasts were open and now they will be closed. It is necessary to join the election observers.
Translated by Matthew Quigley