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St. Petersburg hosted the second Citizen Observers Forum

On 3 and 4 December, St. Petersburg hosted the second Citizen Observers Forum (COF), where the September 18 Election observation results and future plans were discussed. The Forum served as a dialogue platform where the representatives of election observation movements, experts, lawyers, election officials and activists gathered with a common goal to protect the electoral rights and prevent the violations. The atmosphere of trust and open conversation helped to outline future steps in this field.

Over 100 participants from 31 regions of Russia, including representatives of 8 election observation organizations took part in the forum. The CEC of Russia was represented by the CEC member in voting capacity Alexander Kinev, the head of Statistics and Information Department of Electoral Process Office Olga Jagodina, the deputy head of Electoral Process Office Alexey Nesterov. The St. Petersburg election commission – the commission members Krasnyansky Dmitry, Olga Pokrovskaya and a member of personnel. HRC was represented by Natalya Evdokimova. Alexander Shishlov took part in the forum as HRC Office representative in St. Petersburg.

At the beginning of the forum, Alexander Kinev presented the CEC chairman letters of appreciation to eight participants.

The election observation movements have presented their success stories and failures during the Elections of 18 September. Afterwards the forum participants were provided with opportunity to take part in an open discussion, share their experiences.

After the presentations of section coordinators’ reports, the workshop was split into six sections:

Section No. 1. Citizen election observation standards

Section No. 2. Liaison with election commissions

Section No. 3. Training of election observers

Section No. 4. The long-term election observation

Section No. 5. Vote count and tabulation

Section No. 6. Post-election activities

The results of the above mentioned working groups were presented on the second day. Each group had a moderator, external expert, who commented on the discussion results.

Moreover, a roundtable discussion was held on the technologies and platforms used to coordinate the work of election observers and election officials.

After the round table, the participants shared their experience and good practice. A series of short reports, presentations were given on various election observation related topics.

In the closing ceremony six citizens were awarded a medal ‘Defender of Free Elections’.

In May 2016, the first forum took place in Moscow at the start of election campaign. The representatives of various election observation organizations from 33 regions of Russia, as well as the chairman of the CEC of Russia Ella Pamfilova, a member of the HRC, the chairman of permanent commission on voting rights Ilya Shablinsky, the staff of CEC and the Human Rights Commissioner of Russia took part in the forum. The movements ‘Golos’, ‘Citizen Observer’, ‘Petersburg Observers’, ‘Sonar’, ‘League of Voters’, ‘Election Citizen Control’, ‘Perm Observer’ came out with an initiative to hold such a forum.