Golos Movement Creates Database of Parties and Candidates’ Election Sponsors
Between 2005 and 2018, political parties and their candidates collected no less than 12 bln rubles for the elections through non-profit foundations and organizations. Altogether, they received no less than 40 bln rubles in donations. This information came to light thanks to the new project of the Golos Movement for Protection of Voter Rights called “Party Purses” (kp.golosinfo.org). The project has compiled the database of entities that have been sponsoring parties and candidates in the elections.
The non-transparent arrangement for collection of donations is most often used by the United Russia party that has built a network of regional social funds for support of the party back in the early 2000s. These funds account for almost half of all legal entities’ donations made to the United Russia. Starting in 2005, United Russia party has received 8.1 bln rubles via 79 different funds. An additional 1.4 bln rubles were donated via the funds directly to the party’s election campaigns, its candidates, and a number of “administrative” self-nominees such as Vladimir Putin and Sergei Sobyanin.
It is unclear whose money this actually is. The “social” funds refuse to publicly disclose their sources of income. All too often such funds do not report on their own donors neither to the voters nor to the Russian Ministry of Justice although they are obligated to do so by law. In particular, they have to specify the presence or absence of foreign financing or government funds. However, in studying the Justice Ministry’s website with information about non-profit organizations we couldn’t find any accounts of United Russia’s Moscow, Vladimir, Tula, Tatarstan and Pskov funds, among others.
United Russia is followed by Yabloko and Just Russia parties that each received approximately 1.2-1.4 bln rubles using the same non-transparent financing model.
Detailed information about this research can be found online, at the website of the Party Purses project. The project contains information about 19,000 legal entities and private persons that provided financial support to the parties or candidates or performed works paid by them. The database includes primarily federal and regional election donors as well as those that provided the parties with support in the periods between the elections.
All information was gathered from the open official sources. Prior to this, all the financial records regarding financing of parties and candidates was published on the websites of election commissions in different formats, most often as scanned documents. This made it impossible to automatically process the data, comparing it by years or regions. Additionally, part of the data is simply deleted after one year, and the reports lack taxpayer identification numbers of the legal entities, which we had to determine manually. We put all of this data together and converted it into computer-readable format so that others can work with the information.
The information may be incomplete because different regions have different rules regarding disclosure of relevant information. The information will be updated.