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02 jule

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“Civil society has gained invaluable experience” — Lydia Mikheeva

The results of public supervision of the voting process were summed up at a press briefing at the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation

“Civil society has gained invaluable experience” — Lydia Mikheeva

526,584 public observers monitored the nationwide vote, including 236,272 observers from 18 political parties. Around 300 thousand observers were self-nominated candidates and representatives of public organizations. These figures were announced by the President of the Civic Chamber Lydia Mikheeva on July 2 at a press briefing aimed at summing up the results of public monitoring of voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

“This is a testament to Russians’ great interest in an important historical moment and their desire to achieve full compliance with the law during voting,” said Lydia Mikheeva.

Over 200 volunteers of the Civic Chamber Situation Center coordinated with public observers in 85 regions. They had 14 shifts and 1,680 hours during the entire voting period and communicated with 27,212 observers across all regions. There were 205 reports of ‘Gold standard’ non-compliance with only two of them confirmed.

“The main topics of appeals were related to the rules for sealing ballot boxes, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), lack of video surveillance, as well as absence of citizens' data in the lists of voting participants at certain polling stations,” added Lydia Mikheeva.

The President of the Civic Chamber said that during the voting period more than 260 messages and queries were received on the hotline. Information was also relayed from the regional civic chambers. “All messages received by the Civic Chamber Situation Center and the hotline were checked by observers and members of regional civic chambers. Upon confirmation of inconsistencies, regional civic chamber representatives and observers helped to resolve them.

Lydia Mikheeva recalled that the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation coordinated the work of observers abroad as well – 77 directions were created for work at polling stations in 31 countries, and more than 50 foreign citizens monitored the nationwide vote as experts.

“Yesterday I attended a round table at the Civic Chamber along with 41 experts who shared their impressions – the overwhelming majority of comments and queries were related to whether it was worth extending the e-voting procedure to the electoral level. Experts noted that they would take this experience into account when organizing elections in their respective countries.”

According to her, the proactive approach of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and the regional civic chambers, which included tracking false and inaccurate information, was met with negative reactions by some. “On June 30 and July 1, two hacker attacks were carried out on the Civic Chamber. On June 30, a DoS attack brought down the official website of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and a special website dedicated to public monitoring of the nationwide vote. The websites were restored as soon as possible. In the evening of the final vote on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the website of the Civic Chamber was again subjected to a hacker attack. Several news reports on the progress of public oversight of the nationwide vote were replaced with false texts. The IP address responsible for the hacker attack was registered in Ukraine. At the moment, the technical support unit of the Civic Chamber has managed to restore full functionality of the website.”

Lydia Mikheeva also recalled that the active public position of Civic Chamber member from Sevastopol Natalya Kiryukhina became the reason for the threats she received on June 28. The Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and the Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Russian Federation took the issue of ensuring her security at all times.

“We are recording an unprecedented level of Russian citizens’ attention to both the voting process itself and the monitoring procedure. Civil society has gained invaluable experience, and I believe it will be useful in the future,” she summed up.

According to Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Presidential Council for Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Valery Fadeev, the preliminary results of voting showed that the decision of the head of state to hold a nationwide vote was the right way forward. “Russian citizens are interested in what is happening in their country, it was important for them to support the amendments that they themselves put forward as most of these amendments were not from specialists or professionals – the amendments originated from society, from the people themselves. Only later were these proposals properly reviewed by legal professionals.”

According to Alexander Malkevich, First Deputy Chairman of the Civic Chamber Commission on Development of Information Community, Mass Media and Mass Communications, during the voting period, almost six thousand fake messages were identified. Half of them originated in Moscow, while the rest emerged throughout the country with 20-30 fake messages per region.

“For instance, the Golos movement was heavily implicated – it was complicit in spreading around 1,500 fake stories. When using the “reliable resource” filter, only 28 messages remained, and only 5 were related to the voting process itself with 2 media items being officially confirmed,” he said.

Alexander Malkevich also emphasized that over 200 publications that emerged on the resources of the foreign media would be transferred to the specialized Commissions on Protecting State Sovereignty and Preventing Interference in the Domestic Affairs of the Russian Federation (under the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Russian Federation).

Tags: Lidia Mikheeva, Alexander Malkevich, Nataliya Kiryuhina

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