Golos (election monitor)

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For the Russian film, see Golos (1982 film).
Movement for Defence of Voters' Rights "Golos"
Движение в защиту прав избирателей «Голос»
Movement for Defence of Voters' Rights Golos Logo.png
Formation 2000 (GOLOS Association)[1]
2013 (Movement "Golos")[2]
Fields Election monitoring

Andrey Yuryevich Buzin
Yurii Albertovich Gurman
Arkadiy Yefimovich Lyubarev
Grigoriy Arkadyevich Melkonyants

Roman Nikolaevich Udot[2]
Website www.golosinfo.org
Formerly called
GOLOS Association[2]

The Movement for Defence of Voters' Rights "Golos", formerly GOLOS Association (Cyrillic: ГОЛОС, meaning "vote" or "voice")[3] 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.[4]


GOLOS was founded as an association of non-profit organizations in 2000 to support civil monitoring of elections.[5]


Since 2002 GOLOS has monitored elections and referendums of all levels. The Telegraph describes GOLOS as being "one of the few organisations able to catalogue and publicise [the Kremlin's] attempts at fraud and intimidation".[4]

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

2008 presidential election[edit]

In the 2008 presidential election and accompanying local elections, GOLOS representatives found many irregularities, including the following.[6]

2011 legislative election[edit]

During the 2011 Russian legislative election, 2,000 monitors coordinated by GOLOS took part in election observation.[7]

GOLOS set up an interactive map of violations to which users could submit reports, video evidence, audio recordings and photographs.[8] It attracted over 4,500 reports alleging illegal campaign tactics, including stories of employers threatening workers with pay cuts and local officials ordering business leaders to pressure subordinates.[9][10]

Citing the map, Russian prosecutors charged GOLOS with publishing election data during the five days before voting.[7] It also accused Golos of "dissemination of rumors under the guise of trustworthy reports, with the goal of defaming a party as well as its individual members.”[7] Golos was subsequently fined for these alleged breaches.[11]

During the election, the website was subjected to Denial-of-service attacks.[12][10] The state-owned channel NTV showed reports accusing GOLOS Association of disrupting the elections paid for by the United States.[13]

2012 "foreign agent" registration and prosecution[edit]

In early 2012, Russia introduced legislation which required NGOs receiving foreign donations to present themselves as "foreign agents" in outward communication.[14][15]

The same year, GOLOS received the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. While both Golos and the Helsinki Committee stated that Golos had not accepted the prize money, Russia's Justice Ministry in April 2013 used it as a reason to qualify Golos as the first "foreign agent" under the new legislation.[16] After GOLOS refused to register as such, it was suspended in June 2013 for six months.[17] After its suspension in 2013, GOLOS reorganized as civil movement "Golos" to continue its work.[5]

On 7 July 2015, Russian police raided the offices and the homes of several Golos employees and confiscated equipment including computers. Police linked the raids to a tax investigation against the head of the group's branch in Samara.[18] The police raid was accompanied by a TV crew from state-controlled NTV.[19]

In February 2016, the Justice Ministry asked Moscow's Basmanny District Court to ban GOLOS, citing a failure to present proper documentation.[20]

In July 2016, a court ordered the liquidation of Golos within six months due to "serious irremediable breaches of law”. Golos is appealing the decision.[21]


Golos is a member of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO).[22] It is also a member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (epde) an association of election monitors in Eastern Europe.[23]

After its suspension in 2013, Golos reorganized as a civil movement.[5] It consists of independent organizations such as Golos-Povolzhye (located in Samara) and Golos-Ural (located in Chelyabinsk).[24]

After an appeal by the Presidential Human Rights Council, regional organization of Golos received funds from Russia's presidential administration.[24] In April 2013, the head of Golos Grigory Melkonyants announced that it suspended any foreign funding.[25] In addition to the presidential grants, projects of Golos in the past have received donations from the European Commission,[7] USAID[26] as well as NED.[27]

Support from Memorial[edit]

On November 30, 2011 the board of the "Memorial International Society" supported GOLOS against attacks from pro-Kremlin media:[28]

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]


  1. ^ http://archive.golos.org/about
  2. ^ a b c http://www.golosinfo.org/en/about-en
  3. ^ The GOLOS Association's web site(Russian), English articles.
  4. ^ a b Kremlin accused of silencing Russia's independent election watchdog, Telegraph, retrieved 1/12/2011
  5. ^ a b c "About us". golosinfo.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  7. ^ a b c d Barry, Ellen (2011-12-01). "Russia Puts Pressure on Election Monitor, Golos". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  8. ^ "Карта нарушений на выборах". kartanarusheniy.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  9. ^ Barry, Ellen (2011-12-02). "Russian Election Monitor Golos Fined $1,000 by Judge". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  10. ^ a b "'Hacking attacks' hit Russian political sites". BBC News. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  11. ^ Barry, Ellen (2011-12-02). "Russian Election Monitor Golos Fined $1,000 by Judge". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  12. ^ Soldatov, Andrei (2011-12-09). "Vladimir Putin's Cyber Warriors". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  13. ^ Суд оштрафовал ассоциацию "Голос" Lenta.ru (Russian)
  14. ^ "Russian Duma adopts NGO "foreign agents" bill". B92. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  15. ^ For Nearly 5 Hours, a Showcase of Putin’s Fully Intact Confidence April 25, 2013 New York Times
  16. ^ "Legal actions against Golos violates human rights - Den norske Helsingforskomité". nhc.no. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  17. ^ "Russia NGO law: Election watchdog Golos suspended". BBC News. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  18. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-08/russia-raids-and-registers-local-election-monitor-foreign-agent/6602742
  19. ^ http://www.newsweek.com/russia-cracks-down-moscow-election-monitors-352039
  20. ^ "Russian Justice Ministry to Ban Election Monitor Golos | News". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  21. ^ "Ban on Golos NGO appealed in Moscow court". RAPSI. 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  22. ^ "ENEMO | EUROPEAN NETWORK OF ELECTIONS MONITORING ORGANIZATIONS". www.enemo.eu. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  23. ^ "About us - European Platform for Democratic Elections". www.epde.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  24. ^ a b "Russia's most foreign agent: How one human rights group became the country's most harassed organization — Meduza". Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  25. ^ "Russia: Golos Faces 'Foreign Agent' Case". Sky News. Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  26. ^ "USAID Exit to Hit Small Organizations Hard". Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  27. ^ Interregional Civic Foundation in Support of Civil Society Development "GOLOS" ($51,477) "GOLOS will seek to motivate undecided or apathetic voters to participate in the elections and will monitor the electoral process." Archive copy at the Wayback Machine‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› , ned.org.
  28. ^ Russian: Правление Международного общества «Мемориал», В поддержку Ассоциации «Голос», Grani.ru, 30 November 2011