Golos Movement: Intimidation of St. Petersburg Residents at the Start of Important Elections is Intolerable
On May 1, 2019, the law enforcement agencies of St. Petersburg forcefully dispersed the participants of the approved demonstration «Free Election for Free St. Petersburg.» As a result, 68 people were detained, and three required medical assistance. One of the detainees had her shoulder joint broken. Human rights ombudsman in St. Petersburg Alexander Shishlov called the «unprecedented crackdown on the approved May 1 demonstration and the harsh detentions of its participants a blatant violation of human rights guaranteed by the Russian Constitution.»
The Golos Movement in Support of Voters’ Rights subscribes to the city residents’ demands for fair and free elections. The democratic election standards, to which our country agreed to conform, directly obligate the state to guarantee the freedom of assembly as one of the most important conditions of fair elections.
The forceful dispersion of the peaceful demonstration that demanded fair elections took place against the backdrop of several scandals related to the abuse of administrative resource in the course of the preparation for the upcoming elections of the governor and municipal deputies as well as to the officials’ non-compliance with interdictions related to the federal and municipal service, and to the artificial restraints on competition that were already pointed out by Golos.
The government bodies’ responses to our declarations attest to their indisposition to sort out the arbitrary treatment and curb abuse. It is precisely this abuse of officials’ positions and the failure to act on the part of the prosecutor’s office and election organizers that force the citizens to partake in public actions in order to draw the society’s and state’s attention to the obvious problems.
The Golos Movement perceives the ostentatious and disproportionate forceful actions on May 1 as an attempt to intimidate St. Petersburg’s residents at the start of important elections. The events of the last few months make it possible to state that the city’s executive branch purposefully ignores the Russian Constitution.
The inability of the city’s leadership and other officials to act within the limits of law and to establish conditions for fair elections, as well as the conflict of interests in the process of their preparation and the abuse of official powers should result in personal accountability, especially on the part of the politicians who seek to take part in the elections. The actions of the officials and security agencies demand an objective investigation regarding official misconduct and violation of the citizens’ constitutional rights.
Based on the events of the last several weeks, we regretfully pronounce that the likely candidacy of Alexander Beglov at the elections of St. Petersburg’s governor while he acts as the city’s head will most likely result in the fact that St. Petersburg’s residents will encounter unprecedented restrictions on their electoral rights, while the elections will follow the most flagrant scenario.