Our guest this week on the podcast is Grigory Melkonyants. Grigory Melkonyants is a Russian human rights activist, lawyer and co-chair of Golos, the movement to protect voters’ rights. This week’s topics are freedom of association in Russia, the law on foreign agents, the significance of the attack on the Memorial Society and whether free and fair elections are possible in the country.
The questions discussed in the podcast include the following: designation of Golos as a ‘foreign agent’; the imposition of ‘individual media foreign agent status’ on Golos associates; the quality of electoral law and practice in Russia; the attacks on Memorial; why these attacks have happened now; plans for a civil society conference; the future of human rights in Russia.
The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.
This podcast is in Russian. You can listen to it in full here:
Given the length of the podcast, for your convenience we have also divided it into seven parts that you can listen to separately.
Part One: Designation of Golos as a foreign agent:
Part Two: The use of ‘individual media foreign agent status’ against Golos associates:
Part Three: Elections in the Russian Federation:
Part Four: On the government’s moves to close down Memorial:
Part Five: Why is the attack on Memorial happening now?
Part Six: On the planned civil society conference:
Part Seven: On the future of human rights in Russia:
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “Democrat Steve Cohen, co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission, and Republican Joe Wilson, member of the Helsinki Commission, submitted a draft resolution to the U.S. Congress on November 18 this year, one paragraph of which reads: “According to the Russian non-governmental organization Golos and independent electoral analysts, approximately 27,000,000 votes, accounting for 37 percent of the official total, were fraudulent, making the plebiscite the most manipulated vote in the modern history of the Russian Federation.” Golos for Fair Elections, a meticulous and professional organization, has long annoyed lovers of fraud: it is not without reason that many believed that Sidankin’s ‘law’ on ‘foreign agents’ was concocted in the first place to kill off Golos. In April 2013 the Russian authorities labeled the organization a ‘foreign agent’, and in 2016 they ‘liquidated’ it. But Golos’s voice cannot be killled off or ‘liquidated.’ Golos still found a way to continue its work, after which officials designated them twice more as agents, creating another registry of ‘foreign spies’ in which the Golos movement was the first to be entered. The recent stunt with the branding of the organisation Fair Elections also tells much about the implacable Russian authorities, who are trying to undermine all those who work to protect the rights of voters, who help Russian citizens participate in independent election monitoring. After all, the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of power in Russia is its people. I am a huge admirer of these brave people, and Simon Cosgrove and I were lucky to have the opportunity to speak with Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of Golos.”