GOLOS Association

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For the Russian film, see Golos (1982 film).
ГОЛОС
GOLOS
Type Non-profit
NGO
Founded 2000
Headquarters
  • Russia
    Active in 40 regions of Russia. General secretariat in Moscow
Method(s) Observations of elections and referendums
Motto In defense of the rights of voters
Website www.golos.org

The GOLOS Association (Cyrillic: ГОЛОС, meaning "vote" or "voice")[1] is a Russian organisation established in 2000 to protect the electoral rights of citizens and to foster civil society. As of 2008, the organisation covers 40 Russian regions. It is the only election watchdog active in Russia that is independent of the Russian government.[2] The organisation is in part funded by the United States government through the National Endowment for Democracy[3] and is thereby considered a foreign agent according to Russian law. Starting from 26 June 2013, the organisation has been suspended for six months by the Russian Justice Ministry for failing to abide by this law.[4]

Activities[edit]

Since 2002 GOLOS has monitored elections and referendums of all levels.

In the March 2008 presidential election and accompanying local elections, GOLOS representatives found many irregularities, including the following.[5]

The group publishes a newspaper Grazhdansky Golos (Civil Voice).

The Telegraph describes Golos as being "one of the few organisations able to catalogue and publicise [the Kremlin's] attempts at fraud and intimidation".[2]

Relationships with USAID[edit]

After NTV representatives (a major Russian television broadcaster) officially interviewed GOLOS Association on 25–26 November 2011, on 26 November 26, three men entered a room where the organisation conducted an internal training, and accused GOLOS of cooperation with the CIA and such.[citation needed] Two days later, on 28 November, two NTV representatives entered the headquarters of the organisation while GOLOS spokesmen were giving a press conference at an independent press-centre.[citation needed] GOLOS representatives suggested that the men should go and instead take part in the official press session, but the journalists repeated similar accusations as two days before.[citation needed] This incident was recorded on a mobile phone and the video is available on YouTube, showing a GOLOS director constantly repeating that it was a provocation instead of answering any questions.[citation needed]

On 2 December, NTV showed an investigative documentary film, "Голос ниоткуда" (Golos niotkuda, translated as "Voice from nowhere" or "Vote from nowhere"), in which the GOLOS Association was accused of making propaganda paid for with foreign money, in particular from the United States.[6]

On 8 December, the Life News portal announced it had received access to 60 MB of correspondence between GOLOS administration and USAID (a federal government agency of the United States), and correspondence between GOLOS administration and its activists. The correspondence has shown that GOLOS sent reports to USAID on how the money they received from USAID was spent. Also the correspondence has shown that activists received money for working with every report on a violation.[7]

Prosecution[edit]

On 2 November 2011 a Moscow court fined Golos 30 000 roubles (about 1000 USD) for violations of the electoral law of Russia.[6] On 1 December 2011 prosecutors in Moscow served Golos with papers alleging the organisation had portrayed an unnamed political party in a bad light before the legislative elections. The unnamed party has been identified as being United Russia.[2]

In 2013 Golos was fined $10,000 for not complying with new Russian legislation requiring NGOs receiving foreign donations to present themselves as foreign agents in outward communication.[8][9]

Starting from 26 June 2013, the organisation has been suspended for six months by the Russian Justice Ministry for failing to abide by the law on NGOs which obliges it to call itself a foreign agent on all outside communication.[4]

Support from Memorial[edit]

On November 30, 2011 the board of the "Memorial International Society" supported GOLOS against attacks from pro-Kremlin media:[10]

The article published by "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" about this respected organization is no different from the Soviet writings against Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (...) The main KGB-styled complaint is simple: the organization receives money from foreign organizations and thus leads subversion. The same claim against the non-governmental organizations was voiced in a very rude manner and in a speech at the congress of Putin's "United Russia". (...) We express our support and respect of the GOLOS Association and anyone who strives to make to reduce the number of possible fraud in the upcoming elections.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The GOLOS Association's web site(Russian), English articles.
  2. ^ a b c Kremlin accused of silencing Russia's independent election watchdog, Telegraph, retrieved 1/12/2011
  3. ^ "Russia - National Endowment for Democracy". Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Russia NGO law: Election watchdog Golos suspended". BBC News. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  5. ^ STATEMENT # 3 OF GOLOS ASSOCIATION ON THE RESULTS OF SHORT-TERM MONITORING OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ON MARCH 2, 2008, The GOLOS Association, Moscow, March 3, 2008
  6. ^ a b Суд оштрафовал ассоциацию "Голос" Lenta.ru (Russian)
  7. ^ Life News публикует тайную переписку «Голоса» с Госдепом США (Russian)
  8. ^ "Russian Duma adopts NGO "foreign agents" bill". B92. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  9. ^ For Nearly 5 Hours, a Showcase of Putin’s Fully Intact Confidence April 25, 2013 New York Times
  10. ^ Russian: Правление Международного общества «Мемориал», В поддержку Ассоциации «Голос», Grani.ru, 30 November 2011