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Russia bans two foreign election-monitoring groups

Meduza

The Russian government has banned another two “undesirable organizations.” Say hello and goodbye to the election-monitoring groups the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) and the International Elections Study Center (IESC). Based in Germany, EPDE was created in Warsaw in 2012 by the representatives of 13 public organizations from different European countries. 

Liliya Shibanova, the founder and former director of the Russian association “Golos,” is a member of EPDE’s coordinating council. On March 12, the pro-Kremlin news channel Ren TV aired a report claiming that EPDE and IESC operate in Russia through the Golos movement, singling out Shibanova.

What’s Golos’s history with Russian law enforcement?

In 2013, the Justice Ministry formally declared the Golos voters’ rights association to be a “foreign agent.” The group’s leadership subsequently liquidated Golos and reorganized it as a social movement under the same name. After the transformation, Golos founder Liliya Shibanova reportedly moved to Lithuania temporarily.

Since 2015, the Attorney General’s Office has been empowered to ban any foreign or international nongovernmental organization whose activities supposedly threaten national security. Russia currently prohibits 13 “undesirable” organizations. Working with these groups in Russia is illegal and punishable by imprisonment.