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Nomination and registration of candidates and political parties in elections to the representative bodies of the government

The report analyses the results of the nomination and registration:

•     6 electoral campaigns for the election of the legislative (representative) bodies Deputies of the government in the Russian Federation entities for the republics of North Ossetia-Alania and Udmurtia, Krasnodar Territory, Penza, Saratov, and Sakhalin regions;
•     11 elections election campaigns representative bodies of the administrative centers (capitals) of the Russian Federation entities in the Altai Republics (c. Gorno-Altaysk) and Karachay-Cherkessia (c. Cherkessk), Altai (c. Barnaul), Kamchatka (c. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka) and the Primorsky Territory (c. Vladivostok), Kirov (c. Kirov), Kursk (c. Kursk), Omsk (c. Omsk), Pskov (c. Pskov), Tver (c. Tver) and Yaroslavl regions (c. Yaroslavl);
•     2 election campaigns for additional elections of the Russian State Duma deputies in Bryansk and Leningrad regions;
•     125 municipal election campaigns in Moscow.

The information from other regions received on the «Map of Violations» information resource www. kartanarusheniy. org as well as the one posted on social media was used when drawing this report. 

Conclusions

The «Golos» movement draws attention to a number of features and patterns identified at the stage of nominations and lists of political parties in elections to representative bodies on a Single Voting Day of September 10, 2017, as follows:
1.   Competition at the nomination and registration stage has decreased compared to the elections of 2015 and 2016. Firstly, this was due to a further downsizing of the self-nominated candidates. In fact, only a few of the actual self-nominated candidates are registered in the election.
2.   The degree of competition for elections varies widely across regions. The most competitive elections are usually held at the municipal level. This is particularly evident in the municipal elections in Moscow.
3.   The gap between the so called «big four» and all other parties is getting bigger. In particular, it shows in the fact that the lists of Duma parties («United Russia», CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) and «A Just Russia») are registered freely, while the remaining parties face some kind of registration refusals here and there in the regions.
4.   The commissions organising elections (and actually regional and local administrations) provide selective support for the promotion and registration of those political parties and candidates who play a nominal role in the given region, meaning they are like «spoilers» or «technical» participants in the elections.
5.    In comparison to the previous years, the work of electoral commissions organising elections has become more open and informative. There remain problems in obtaining the necessary information and access to the electoral documents, but they are mainly noted at the stage of the territorial electoral commissions and municipal commissions.
6.   Unlike the elections for a Single Voting Day in 2014 and 2015, in 2017 there were no cases in which electoral commissions directly hindered candidates and lists of parties from the nomination and registration.
7.   In the meantime, administrative supervision over the elections has shifted to the preliminary stage of the electoral campaign, the process of agreeing upon and nominating candidates and party lists, the stage of the party conferences and the preparation of the documents required for the submission and registration by regional Party offices.
8.   The cases of administrative pressure, including pressure from the security forces, on individual candidates, on members and leaders of regional and local political parties branches, in order to prevent their movement have been recorded.
9.   The wide participation of state and municipal officials and senior officials in strictly party-political activities related to the nomination and registration of candidates and lists of candidates from the «United Russia» party has become such a common reality that it is not perceived as questionable and unacceptable in some cases.
10.   In the municipal elections in Moscow, it was noticed that the headquarters of the administrative candidates (pro-regime) work at the prefecture level in the administrative districts, which indirectly indicates coordination and administrative control by the Moscow city government.
11.   In the municipal elections in Moscow, informal socio-political groups have developed their activities to support the nomination and registration of independent and opposition candidates. Although this phenomenon has been manifested only in Moscow so far, it seems to be inevitable and it can be spread throughout the country and, what is important, it speaks of the party-political system degradation, the inadequate and, as a result, unrepresentative public sentiments and the interests of entire Social groups. 12.   There developed a need to start discussing options for the reformation of the Electoral commission system in Moscow.

1. Results of the candidates and lists of political parties nomination and registration

As of August 21st, the nomination process was completed in all elections scheduled for September 10, 2017, including regional and local electoral campaigns monitored by our long-term observers.
Table 1. The time frame for the election of the representative bodies on the Single Voting Day of September 10, 2017.

Subject of the Russian Federation Type of election Date of nomination
Federal elections
1. Bryansk region Additional election of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation State
Duma deputy for the single consistency electoral district of Bryansk region
- Bryansk single consistency electoral district №77
26.06.2017 – 26.07.2017
2. Leningrad region Additional election of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation State
Duma deputy for the single consistency electoral district of Leningrad region
- Kingisepp single consistency electoral district №112
26.06.2017 – 26.07.2017
Regional elections
3. Republic of North Ossetia-Alania Election of the Parliament deputies of North Ossetia-Alania 09.06.2017 — 10.07.2017
4. Udmurt Republic Election of the State Council deputies of the Udmurt Republic 26.06.2017 – 31.07.2017
5. Krasnodar Territory Election to the Legislative Assembly deputies of Krasnodar Territory 12.06.2017 – 26.07.2017
6. Penza Region Election to the Legislative Assembly deputies of Penza region 12.06.2017 – 16.07.2017
7. Saratov region Election of Saratov region Duma deputies 13.06.2017 – 26.07.2017
8. Sakhalin Region Election of Sahalin region Duma deputies 10.06.2017 – 09.07.2017
Local (municipal) elections in administrative centres
9. Altai Republic Election of the Gorno-Altai City Council deputies 22.06.2017 – 16.07.2017
10. Karachay-Cherkess Republic Elections of the municipal education Duma deputies in Cherkessk City 25.06.2017 – 24.07.2017
11. Altai Territory Election of Barnaul City Duma deputies 22.06.2017 – 30.07.2017
12. Kamchatka Territory Election of the City Duma deputies of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka Urban District 16.06.2017 – 26.07.2017
13. Primorsky Territory Election of the Duma deputies of the Vladivostok city 26.06.2017 – 31.07.2017
14. Kirov region Election of Kirov City Duma deputies 23.06.2017 – 26.07.2017
15. Kursk region Election of the Kursk City Assembly deputies 25.06.2017 – 14.07.2017
16. Omsk Region Election of the Omsk City Council deputies 11.07.2017- 31.07.2017
17. Pskov region Election of Pskov City Duma deputies 16.06.2017 – 15.07.2017
18. Tver region Election of Tver City Duma deputies 29.06.2017 – 29.07.2017
19. Yaroslavl Region Election of the Yaroslavl City municipality deputies 06.06.2017 – 01.07.2017

In general, the time frame for nominations of candidates and party lists appears to be optimal and has not caused any particular difficulties for candidates and parties. 

It should be noted, however, that there are only 20 days for the nomination of candidates and parties for the elections of the Omsk City Council deputies between July 11th and 31st. As a result, the time frame of the electoral campaign, given the need to collect signatures for some of its participants, has been excessively reduced, limiting the ability and rights of candidates and parties, especially the ones for interaction with the electorate. It is also evident that such short time frames do not contribute to a sufficient electorate awareness, significantly reduce the campaign period and reduce the importance of the campaigns.

1.1. Election of the legislative (representative) bodies deputies of the Russian Federation entities 

During the six elections to the regional parliaments, the largest number of refusals to register the nominated lists were received by political parties in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania — 4 out of 13 parties were not registered: «Yabloko», «Russian All-People’s Union», «Veterans Party of Russia» and «Russian Socialist Party». 

In the Republic of Udmurtia, three of the nine nominated parties were rejected — PARNAS, «Party of Social Reform» and «Party of Russia’s Rebirth». 

In Krasnodar Territory, the three parties also would not participate in the elections, the «Yabloko» and «Rodina» parties were denied the lists certification, and the «Great Fatherland Party» got denied the registration. Finally, the «Party Action» was not registered in Sakhalin region. 

The four «Duma parties» («United Russia», CPRF, LDPR and «A Just Russia») received 100% registration in all six electoral campaigns. 

«Patriots of Russia» are registered in all three elections, where they have advanced (Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Penza and Sakhalin regions). 

«Communists of Russia» are registered in four (except RNO-Alania) of five nominations (Udmurt Republic, Krasnodar Territory, Saratov and Sakhalin region).

«Rodina» is also registered in four (except Krasnodar Territory) of five (Udmurt Republic, Krasnodar Territory, Penza and Sakhalin region). 

«Yabloko» is registered in two (Sakhalin and Saratov regions) out of four regions. 

«Party of Growth» is advanced and registered in one region (the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania), as is the «Party of Pensioners’ of Russia» (Penza region). 

Also in the Penza region, REP «Greens», «Party for Justice!», «Political Party of Social Protection» have nominated and registered their only lists. The only nominated party lists are not registered: PARNAS (Udmurt Republic), «Russian All-People’s Union» (Republic of North Ossetia-Alania), «Party Action» (Sakhalin region), «Great Fatherland Party» (Krasnodar Territory), «Veterans Party» and «Russian Socialist Party» in RNO-Alania, «Party of Russia’s Rebirth» and «Social Reform Party» in the Udmurt Republic.

In the single consistency districts elections, 563 candidates were nominated by the parties to the regional parliaments, 547 of them were registered. Three more candidates had dropped out after registration. 64 candidates were self-nominated, only 30 of them could register. «Stronghold of Russia» and «Party of Russia’s Rebirth» were unable to register their only nominated candidates and completely dropped out of the participation in the regional elections 2017. The remaining 13 parties maintain their representation in the majority districts to some degree. The most losses among single consistency members were in the «Communists of Russia» party (as of August 14th the commission registered 72 of 80 single consistency party members).

In terms of party participation at the nomination stage of elections for representative bodies of Sakhalin, Penza regions (10 party lists were nominated) and the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania (nine parties) were the most competitive. 

The very low participation in the regional elections of self-nominated candidates, except the election of deputies to the Saratov region Duma, where 13 self-nominated have been nominated for 22 districts, draws attention. In the remaining territories, there are only two to six self-nominated candidates.

Region Type of election Number of seats assigned to a single district Single District: Number of parties, total number of candidates Number of majority districts Majority Districts: Total number of candidates, number of parties Majority Districts, self-nominated Average number of candidates per district
Republic of North Ossetia-Alania Election of the North Ossetia-Alania Parliament deputies 70 9 Parties, 456 candidates 0 0 0 0
Udmurt Republic Election of the State Council deputies of the Udmurt Republic 30 6 Parties, 414 candidates 30 129 candidates, 6 parties 6 4.5
Krasnodar Territory Election to the Legislative Assembly deputies of Krasnodar Territory 35 5 Parties, 406 candidates 35 165 candidates, 6 parties 3 4.8
Penza Region Election to the Legislative Assembly deputies of Penza region 18 10 Parties, 341 candidates 18 70 candidates, 6 parties 2 4
Saratov region Election of Saratov region Duma deputies 23 6 Parties, 267 candidates 22 103 candidates, 7 parties 13 5.27
Sakhalin Region Election of Sahalin region Duma deputies 14 10 Parties, 267 candidates 14 77 candidates, 9 parties 6 5.92
Total number of participants 190 16 different parties, 2151 candidate 119 544 candidates from 13 different parties 30 4.82


1.2. Election of representative bodies of the Russian Federation entities administrative centres

For single districts, 21 Parties nominated lists of candidates to the representative bodies of the 11 administrative centers, and only 14 parties out of those were able to register for at least one election. 

In Cherkessk, five parties were denied registration: «Yabloko», «People’s Party for the Women of Russia», ROT «Front», «Party of Russia’s Rebirth», «The People Against Corruption». 

In the Gorno-Altaisk, four parties dropped out of the campaign: The registration of PARNAS, «Party Action», «Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice» and the «Great Fatherland Party» was denied at the stage of the candidates’ list certification. 

In Kirov, four parties also dropped out of the campaign: The registration was denied for the ROT «Front» party, and three parties were unable to nominate their lists properly («Labour Party of Russia», «Rodina» and «Great Fatherland Party»). 

Three parties are not registered in Barnaul («Rodina», «Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice», «Great Fatherland Party»). 

In Kursk three parties had also dropped out: Two parties («Russian All-People’s Union» and «Great Fatherland Party») were denied the registration and the «Yabloko» Party did not certify the list. 

In Vladivostok, two parties were denied the registration: «Yabloko» and «Rodina» 

In Omsk, the «Yabloko» and «Party of Growth» were denied the registration.

In Tver, the «Party of Growth» and «Communists of Russia» were rejected.

Finally, in Pskov («Civic Platform») and in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk («Communists of Russia») were not registered. 

And only in the Yaroslavl, all the parties that had announced their participation in the elections had passed the registration process.

«Big Four» registered 100% of their lists. 

«Patriots of Russia» have registered all two nominated lists (Barnaul and Yaroslavl). «Communists of Russia» have registered five (Cherkessk, Kirov, Kursk, Omsk, Yaroslavl) out of the seven lists that have been nominated (the denials in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka and Tver). «Rodina» registered five (Cherkessk, Gorno-Altaisk, Pskov, Tver, Yaroslavl) out of eight (the denials in Barnaul, Vladivostok, and Kirov). «Yabloko» registered four (Barnaul, Pskov, Tver, Yaroslavl) out of eight (in Cherkessk, Vladivostok, Omsk there were refusals of registration, in Kursk, there was a refusal of certification). RPPSJ registered three (Vladivostok, Pskov, Tver) out of five (refusals in Barnaul and Gorno-Altaisk). PARNAS registered one (Yaroslavl) out of two (a refusal in the Gorno-Altaisk). «Party of Growth» registered zero out of two (refusals in Omsk and Tver). «Great Fatherland Party» has dropped out of all three regions, where it has been able to be nominated (Barnaul, Kirov, Kursk). 

In general, out of the 3243 candidates nominated by the political parties in the single electoral districts, 2589 candidates were registered. Eight more candidates had dropped out after registration. 

Around single consistency districts, political parties nominated 1008 candidates to the representative bodies deputies’ elections in the Federation’s administrative center entities, 832 of which were registered. In order of self-nomination, 161 candidates have been nominated, only 61 of them are registered. 

At the local level, only nine parties remained in the election campaign of Yaroslavl deputies. In the remaining regional capitals, only four to seven parties continue to participate in the elections (the smallest number of parties participates in the elections of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka city Duma (4), Omsk, Kirov, and Gorno-Altaisk have five parties each), given that four of them are Duma parties.

The degradation of the party system, the toughening of electoral legislation requirements, the reduction of local government autonomy, the general disappointment in the federal election campaign of 2016 by the opposition parties, have resulted in a continuous decrease in the number of parties taking part in regional and local elections. For comparison, in 2015, there were 16 parties on the town elections in Nizhny Novgorod. In the regional elections in the Kostroma region, 20 parties were nominated, in Kaluga 18 parties were nominated, in Novosibirsk 15 parties were nominated. The average party participation rate for the elections in the administrative centres of the Federation entities in 2015 was 13.85. By 2017, this rate has decreased significantly, to a total of 6.18 party lists per municipal election, and many «small parties» have ceased to engage in active political activity at all.

Another disturbing trend is the continuous decrease in the number of self-nominated candidates. In the municipal elections to the representative bodies of the regional centres for the majority districts observed by «Golos», an average of 5.6 candidates for one mandate were registered, 5.18 of which were from the parties, and only 0.38 of candidates were self-nominated. 

For example, in the Altai territory, there is a very intense electoral campaign to the Krasnodar City Duma, which is accompanied by very mixed decisions of the organising Electoral Commission. In general of 20 mandate districts (approximately 25,000 electors in each district), 142 candidates were nominated, and 40 of them (28.2% of nominated candidates) were denied. Including the fact that 6 out of 9 self-nominated candidates were not registered (the standard for the collection of signatures for candidates is 0.5% or approximately 125 signatures). Only three self-nominated candidates were registered as they had a very «high status»: closely linked to the provincial administration, the operating deputy of Barnaul City Duma and the chairman of one of its committees, Andrey Solodilov, an ex-deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Altai territory, Mark Kozlovsky, Deputy OAO «Convoy 1935, Eduard Panteleev. A separate plot is being set up around the registration of Elena Teteriatnik, a staff member of the «Our News» television channel (a member of Specialized Multidisciplinary Team (EME) of Russian Federation State Duma deputy Prokopyev, who is in conflict with the governor). She stated that she had gone to the elections «to illuminate them». Originally, the electoral committee denied her registration (Graphologist specialist considered that the dates in some of the candidate’s signature lists were written by the same person). The Court of the first instance reinstated her but the electoral committee did not agree with the decision and intends to make an appeal. And Elena Teteriatnik is confident that «the electoral committee does not want to allow a self-nominated candidate to the elections and therefore deliberately prevents her registration». She has already submitted her allegations about the violation of her voting rights to the Central Executive Committee of Russia, as well as to the general and provincial Public prosecutor’s office. 

At the forthcoming major municipal elections on September 10, 2017, the self-nominated candidates will be represented at the average of only a one-third of the electoral districts. At the same time, it is said by both the official sources and the critics of the authorities that, at the local level, party-ideological biases are of minimal importance to the management system, and that it is necessary to involve active and initiative people who are not associated with the parties. However, a significant exception here is the municipal elections in Moscow (see below). The more dramatic situation was witnessed at the elections to the regional legislative assemblies in 2017, where at an average there were 4.57 candidates for one mandate nominated by the parties and only 0.25 of the self-nominated candidates, i. e., on the average, one self-nominated candidate for four districts. The total amount is 4.82 the candidate. In 2015, the parties nominated an average of 5.5 candidates and there were only 0.8 of self-nominated candidates. The total amount was 6.3 the candidate. According to one of the analytical reports of the Civil Initiatives Committee on the monitoring of election campaigns on the Single Voting Day of September 14th, 2014, there was an average of 5.2 candidates for the same mandate nominated by the parties in the regional elections and 2.0 self-nominated candidates. The total amount is 7.1.

It turns out that the number of candidates nominated by the parties continues to decline and that the participation of the self-nominated candidates becomes a statistical error. Thus, competition at the stage of the nomination compared to last year has been significantly reduced, primarily by reducing the participation of self-nominated and non-parliamentary, «small» parties candidates. There have also been no significant new party projects recently. 

«Golos» movement believes that, in order to increase the representativeness of local governments and the level of political competition, the participation of active citizens in local elections, as well as non-partisan initiative groups and communities, should be encouraged additionally. For that, it was necessary to simplify the requirements for their promotion and registration in municipal elections. 

Table 3. The number of registered parties and candidates and the degree of competition for the election of the representative bodies of the administrative centers as of August 21st, 2017.

Region Type of election Number of seats assigned to a single district Single District: Number of parties, total number of candidates Number of majority districts Majority Districts: Number of candidates, number of parties Majority Districts, self-nominated Average number of candidates per district
Altai Republic Election of the Gorno-Altai City Council deputies 10 5 Parties, 110 candidates 10 69 candidates, 9 parties 8 7.7
Karachay-Cherkess Republic Elections of the municipal education Duma deputies in Cherkessk City 33 7 Parties, 190 candidates 0 0 0 0
Altai Territory Election of Barnaul City Duma deputies 20 6 Parties, 322 candidates 20 97 candidates, 9 parties 3 5
Kamchatka Territory Election of the City Duma deputies of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka Urban District 8 4 Parties, 87 candidates 8 58 candidates, 4 parties 6 8
Primorsky Territory Election of the Duma deputies of the Vladivostok city 17 7 Parties, 222 candidates 17 88 candidates, 7 parties 0 5.17
Kirov region Election of Kirov City Duma deputies 18 5 (4) Parties, 242 (190) candidates 18 87 candidates, 5 Parties 2 4.94
Kursk region Election of the Kursk City Assembly deputies 17 6 Parties, 284 candidates 17 64 candidates, 6 parties 18 4.82
Omsk Region Election of the Omsk City Council deputies 20 5 Parties, 281 candidate 20 80 candidates, 5 Parties 3 4.15
Pskov region Election of Pskov City Duma deputies 15 7 Parties, 258 candidates 15 91 Candidate, 8 parties 11 6.8
Tver region Election of Tver City Duma deputies 16 7 Parties, 340 candidates 16 74 Candidates, 7 parties 5 4.93
Yaroslavl Region Election of the Yaroslavl City municipality deputies 19 9 Parties, 242 candidates 19 122 candidates, 8 parties 5 6.68
Total number of participants 193 14 (13) Parties, 2581 (2529) candidate 160 830 candidates, 15 parties 61 5.6


1.3. Additional elections for the State Duma of Russia deputies around single consistency districts

9 candidates were nominated at the additional election of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Deputy around the single consistency electoral district of Leningrad region, the single consistency electoral district of Kingiseppsk № 112. According to the formal criteria, these elections are in the form of elections held on September 18th, 2016. Eleven candidates were participating in the campaign back then. Two of the candidates, Marina Ljubushkina, from «A Just Russia» and Nikolai Kuzmin of CPRF participated in the 2016 campaign and occupied second and third places respectively. In the media, the campaign is mostly perceived to be compulsory. In June, the regional press discussed the possibility of «A Just Russia» avoiding the real struggle for a mandate in favour of LDPR under the influence of the president’s administration. However, a potential candidate from LDPR, Boris Paykin, will eventually be a candidate for Duma elections in Bryansk region. Sergey Jahnjuk from the «United Russia» is considered to be a favored candidate, who is the Deputy Prime Minister of the region and is the head of the Agriculture Committee. The regional editions report on his «departure» to the State Duma as if it is already a practical case. Shortly before the launch of the electoral campaign, attempts to unite among the «opposition» parties were made, which eventually did not lead to anything.

In most regions, the process of nomination and registration of parties and candidates has taken place without many incidents, however, in some regions, a number of parties and candidates have presented serious claims, both to the process and to the decisions of the electoral commissions.

For example, in the Altai territory, at the elections to the Barnaul City Duma, «Rodina» party filed complaints on the registration refusal. The main disagreements between the party and the electorate comittee are related to the different interpretations of the procedures for certifying the signature sheets by the signature collectors, verification of the graphologists’ signatures by themselves and the LAS (Legislative automatic system) «Elections» administrators. In the Biysk district of the Altai territory, the Commission organising the elections for the District Council of Deputies refused to certify the list of «A Just Russia». According to its version, the party did not notify the Commission about the promotion party activities. At the party headquarters, they claim to have notified it by the telephone. 

In the Kirov region, during the elections to the Kirov City Duma, the Electoral Commission refused to register the regional office of the «Russian United Labour Front» party on several grounds. Including the alleged failure to follow the procedure for the nomination of candidates for a single constituency district because, in violation of the party’s statute, the decision was made by the party’s Regional Office Conference (finished on 5 July) rather than by its local Party office. At the same time, according to the leader of the party list, Valery Turulo, an ex-deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the region, the Commission «recalled» this violation only when it had been making its decision not to register the party on the basis of the verification of its the collected signatures (the verification results were recognized to be unreliable (invalid) 124 signatures or 30.47% of the total number of signatures for verification from the collected 2238 voter signatures). In addition, the party did not fill the missing information on the documents of its candidates on time. It should be noted that the fact that the inappropriate nomination of the list of candidates from the ROT «Front» had to be concluded by the Electoral Commission during the verification of the submitted documents for the party’s nomination and they had to inform on time. As Valery Turulo considers on the basis of signatures, purely because of prejudice he was also not registered around 16 single-mandated districts. Also at the elections to the Kirov City Duma, the lists of the following parties were not registered: «Great Fatherland Party» — the list of candidates for deputy filled according to the form established by the Kirov City Election Commission was not represented; «Rodina» and «Labour Party of Russia» — their lists of candidates were submitted after the expiry of the deadline for nomination notification.

In the meantime, there is evidence that in a number of cases the electoral commissions have been extremely tolerant in checking the documents of candidates and political parties. For example, Tatiana Makarov, a member of the Kirov party’s TEC (Territorial Election Committee) of Lenin District, reported that in her Facebook account. She generally notes that «the quality of the documents that were represented in the TEC for the nomination has spoiled my mood.» Particularly egregious violations were identified in the documents submitted by the «Communists of Russia» party. Despite the missed deadlines, the Commission had allowed the submission of missing documents, which had again been submitted with errors, but the Commission had voted in favour of the registration of its candidates. She and the experts think that the reason behind such action by the Commission is that the Kirov «Communists of Russia» have a duty of spoilers for a sufficiently strong regional office of CPRF. In particular, she recalled that a similar situation had been observed the previous year in the elections of 2016, where «due to their subscriptions („The Communists of Russia“), the president of Regional Election Comittee had almost paid with his position, and another member of the Regional Election Comittee, had to get away from the police.» The Regional Election Comittee president Vladimir Motorina got complaints, but according to the assessment of our long-term observers, they did not lead to anything. From another member of Regional Election Comittee Vladimir Nepochatova, the police wanted to get explanation about hindering a member of the Commission with PSC to have a look at the signatures of «Communists of Russia». He’s also been avoiding explaining himself by just turning off his phone.

On August 21st, the Leninsky Court of Kirov cancelled the registration of the CPRF list. In its report, the regional office of CPRF directly accuses the administration of Acting Governor Igor Vasiliev and personally minister of internal and Information policy Vladimir Beketov of threatening the court. Before that, CPRF was able to win five law-courts. The party also draws attention to a sudden change in the position of State Election Committee, which had previously registered a party list and had not found any mistakes in its documents. 

The situation was extremely acute in the elections to the Legislative Assembly in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. The North Ossetian branch of CPRF requested the Court to withdraw the «Communists of Russia» party from the Republican parliamentary elections. The claim stated that the signatures of some candidates from the «Communists of Russia» under the declarations of consent to be a candidate for the elections «are false», on the grounds that more than 40 of them are not residents of RNS-Alania and are registered and live outside its Territory. The defendant declared the disqualification of the North Ossetia judges in the process, questioning their impartiality since the father of the President of the Supreme Court was a candidate for Parliament deputies according to the list of CPRF. The court granted the request and decided to refer the administrative case to the Supreme Court of Russia. While the CEC of North Ossetia, on the basis of an expert examination, acknowledged the existence of unreliable signatures of candidates from the «Communists of Russia». The Supreme Court of Russia defined and appointed a referral of the case against «Communists of Russia» to the Stavropol court. 

The Communists of Russia, in their turn, filed a symmetrical counterclaim to register the list of CPRF. The decision of the Stavropol regional Court declared 42 previously registered candidates’ signatures under the declarations of consent to take part in the elections for the Legislative Assembly of RNO deputies to be invalid. In response, the leader of the «Communists of Russia», Maxim Suraykin, announced the beginning of the indefinite hunger strike by the Political Buro members and party activists in other regions and addressed the director of the FSB, general attorney, the head of the IDR (Investigation Department of Russia) and the president to check the Stavropol court for corruption and to «restore the observance of political rights of the Russian Federation citizens ... on the territory of the Republic of North Ossetia». The party shall conduct public protests (pickets, rallies). It should be noted that, if the court has established evidence of the falsification of 42 candidates’ statements, a full investigation into the circumstances of the offence must be carried out. Its absence or the lack of any results would cast doubt on the integrity of the charges against the party. 

On August 20th, the Stavropol Court of CPRF cancelled the registration of the CPRF according to «Communists of Russia» lawsuit. The latter argued that the CPRF had not submitted full documents to the CEC RNO-Alania in order to register for the election. In particular, CPRF failed to file 24 persons from the list of candidates for deputies, and the information concerned their relatives. In addition, the Court, on the basis of an expert examination, established the falsification of signatures on the documents of the head of the CEC Working Group. 

In some cases, the electoral commissions, particularly of the lower level, continue to be over formal with the requirements of the electoral law for the designation of candidate signature lists and party subscriptions without distinguishing informative or non-informative shortcomings. In this way, the Electoral commission of the Sakhalin region had to fix the situation on their own and cancel the decision by Holmes TEC, who had not registered a candidate for a deputy in the Sakhalin regional Duma for the district № 6 of Nikolai Dolgikh, on the grounds that his signature lists contained redundant information that did not match the approved list form. ECNO (Election Committee of North Ossetia) had to clarify in its decision that «the indication of manufacturer, customer, date of output and number of the subscription lists in the list itself does not denigrate the form of the subscription list, nor does it cancel or alter the data of the form of the subscription list, but it only «confirms the compliance of the candidate N. P. Dolgikh of the requirements of the federal and regional laws for the production of subscriptions.» Also the indication of this information, which is true and which is not prohibited by federal and regional legislation: «Does not indicate that the form of the subscription sheet is improper ..., does not mislead voters and the election commission, does not imply misperception of the whole text ..., may not result in an incorrect expression of the will of the voters in support for the candidate, in whose signature sheet they put the date and signature, and the candidate himself ... there occur no preferential conditions over other candidates participating in the electoral campaign.»

1.4. Municipal elections in Moscow

Special attention is drawn to the election of municipal deputies, which will take place on September 10 in 124 districts of Moscow, as well as in the town of Troitsk. The elections for 125 territorial election commissions, which are responsible for the functions of the electoral commissions of municipalities, will be organised. The electoral districts have been increased in many parts of Moscow compared to previous elections. The number of mandates in the same district has also increased. The number of mandates for the electoral district ranges from three to five. In total, municipal elections will take place in 325 electoral districts in Moscow, where a competition over 1502 mandates is held. 

A total of 8 329 candidates stated their desire to participate in the Moscow elections. Although this number includes a few cases of multiple nominations of the same candidates in different parts of Moscow (most of which are observed in the LDPR party), which is not prohibited by law. In general, candidates from 32 political parties have been nominated. In addition, there is a large number of self-nominated candidates which is about 1840 or 22% of all participants in the elections, which distinguishes the Moscow election from other electoral campaigns throughout the country. (See the table below for the Nomination and registration of candidates in the Moscow municipal elections, 2017 (for each constituent element of nomination)). The candidates who do not have registration privileges, depending on the size of the district, need to collect between 10 and 60 voter signatures in their support. More than 40 signatures should be provided for registration in only a few districts in four municipalities: Mar’ino — 41-42 signatures for each district, Mozhaisky District — 44 signatures, Kuncevskij — 44-45signatures, South Butovo — 58-60 signatures.

As a result of the nomination and registration phase, the absolute majority of candidates who had submitted the full set of documents were registered by the electoral commissions. Out of 8 329 nominated candidates, 7863 candidates presented the documents, and 7665 of them were registered. On the basis of the incorrect documents being submitted, TEC denied the registration of 137 candidates. 123 of the candidates has withdrawn during the registration phase themselves.

It is suggested that the electoral commissions in the election should be guided by the installation of the city’s authorities to register as many candidates as possible and not to create any obstacles at the stages of the nomination and registration. As a result, according to some candidates, the Commission had not always followed the letter of the law and its requirements. They ignored the well-founded doubts of competitors about the authenticity of the documents and voter signatures provided by other candidates. Unlike other electoral campaigns, graphologists were not always involved in the work of all electoral commissions. 

The formal basis for such a tolerant registration policy in some TEC was the letter from the Chairman of CIC B. Gorbunov as of 6.07.2017, as well as the aims spoken at the CIC meetings with the commissions organising municipal elections in Moscow. Naturally, such a tolerant approach caused disagreement among some of the participants in the elections and they filed their complaints to the courts. But at present, in different parts of Moscow, the courts have in fact continued to pursue similar policies and have refused to cancel the registration of candidates on the basis of documents apparently inconsistent according to the requirements of the law. Experts and observers note that most of the claims are about the quality of documents and signatures have been made concerning candidates who play the role of so called «spoilers» or «technical» candidates. Mostly, specialists classify to these categories the candidates who nominated through the «Communists of Russia» party (CPRC) or the self-nominated ones. 

Table 4. Nomination and registration of candidates in the Moscow municipal elections 2017 (for each constituent element of nomination) 

The subject of the
nomination
Percentage (%) of the total number of
nominated candidates
Percentage (%) of the total number of
registered candidates
Self-nominated 22,00% 20,40%
United Russia 17,70% 19,30%
CPRF 16,40% 17,50%
LDPR 12,00% 12,60%
A Just Russia 6,70% 7,00%
Yabloko 9,10% 9,20%
Communists of Russia 7,70% 7,30%
Rodina 3,20% 3,10%
Party of Growth 1,90% 1,60%
PARNAS 1,00% 0,70%
Other 2,30% 1,30%

Figure 1. Nomination and registration of candidates in the Moscow municipal elections, 2017 (for each constituent element of nomination)

The highest percentage of withdrawals during the registration phase was recorded in the Molzhaninovsk area, where among 73 candidates 23 were denied the registration. Most of the refusals were made to the self-nominated candidates and the representatives of the «Communists of Russia» party, as well as the only candidates from the «Party of Growth» and the PARNAS party. The main reasons for the refusal of registration were the status of voter signatures recognized by the Commission as invalid, as well as the failure to provide candidates with a full and correct set of documents on time. Also, more than 20% of refusals to register of different nature are noted in two other regions of Moscow (Zyablikovo and Meshansky).

In general, however, such cases are not typical for this campaign. The average rate of refusal to register is 8.6% of the nominated candidates. (See Histogram 1. Distribution of areas by percentage of unregistered candidates). About two-thirds of the «refusals» were made due to a failure to submit documents or signatures, i. e., actually on the initiative of the candidates themselves. Moreover, part of the decisions to withdraw on the basis of claims to submitted documents were due to the insistence of the representatives of the opposition parties and candidates in the consideration of these matters in the territorial commissions. 

Thus, at the stage of nomination and registration, it may be noted that there is no systemic use of the administrative resource when registering candidates to restrict the access of Moscow residents to the realization of their passive voting rights. 

Histogram 1. Distribution of areas by percentage of unregistered candidates

In the Moscow municipal elections of 2017, another significant socio-political phenomenon should be noted. In addition to the traditional formal electoral participants from the political parties to the campaign, a very prominent role is played by the informal unions of candidates: «Katz-Gudkov’s team» (which combines up to thousand of candidates), the "Open-Elections«project from the «Open Russia» movement (the information on candidates is not public, roughly estimated to be 100-200 candidates), the «Local government school» of Julia Galjamina (the information on candidates is not publicly available), etc. Groups, either united by the territorial principle or around specific politicians. The main functions of such informal «meta-headquarters» coordinating the registration and election campaign of several dozen and hundreds of candidates, formally have applied from different subjects (training, legal and methodical assistance in registration and campaign organisation, coordination and union of candidates in teams (this is important because the elections are multimandated), assistance in the development of promotional materials, etc.). The candidates, coordinated by the informal headquarters, are mainly self-nominated (e. g., up to one-third of the candidates of Katz-Gudkov group) or through opposition parties («Yabloko», CPRF, etc.). There are examples where, as a result of such coordination, pools of candidates from different parties are being made in the districts, producing joint agitation campaign print materials and coordinating agitation activities.

The systemic manifestation of the administrative resource at the stage of nomination and registration can be considered as selective assistance to the organising commissions and district administrations (in Moscow, the staff of the Office have traditionally occupied one of the leading positions in TEC) in registration of candidates who perform technical roles in relation to the administrative (pro-regime) candidates and who are nominated in this campaign from «United Russia», as well as spoiler roles to the unadministrative (opposition) candidates. There were cases of assistance from municipal officials in collecting signatures for such candidates, and even forcing them to have a personal presence to pass the documents. For example, according to the press service, the CPRF faction in Moscow State Duma, one of these candidates for registration in the Molzhaninovsky district of Northern Administrative District of TEC, brought the deputy of the board A. Polunin for discussing social issues, and the signature lists were prepared in SBI «Zhilishhnik». 

Administrative candidates did not expect to encounter problems during the registration phase. The percentage of refusal to register or other reasons for the candidate’s dropping out after the submission of the list of «United Russia» is the minimum among all participating entities (see table/diagram). The elections also indicate changes in the organisation and maintenance of administrative candidates. The headquarters of the administrative candidates are located at the Prefectural administrative district level (the Executive Body subordinate of the mayor and the administrative district connects about 10 municipalities (districts)) rather than the district board level. The relationship between the executive authorities and the headquarters of the administrative candidates is said to be partly financed by the budget for PR and sociology. 

It is also worth noting that the relative openness and accessibility of the work of the organising commissions in these elections. In the meantime, there have been few instances of delays in the provision of copies of Commission documents to representatives of candidates and parties, delays in access to documents, problems with attendance at meetings of working groups where Documents of other candidates are reviewed. The most systematic violation of the rights of members of the Commission with the consultative capacity (CC) is observed in the Tagansky district of Moscow. Chairman of TEC R. P. Bakhtijarova and another member of the Commission O. Y. Poddubnov refused to accept the credentials of the members of the PSC and to show them the Commission’s documents for a few days on the basis that they had not yet received a certificate. While registration and issuance of certificates had been artificially slowed down. Members of the CC, who received unlawful refusals in Taganskaya TEC, applied to the Moscow City Election Commission. CIC contacted the Chairman and explained the legitimate rights of members with CC. Even after these clarifications, the unlawful restrictions on the rights of members with CC continue, and this is motivated by the fact that such an order has been established in TEC rules. A member of TEC with PSC was forced to file a complaint about the violation of his rights. 

However, such violations by the parties are not systemic and are partially resolved after consultation with the CIC. 

In general, at the stage of nomination and registration, the work of the organising Commissions (TECs) demonstrated the traditional, unified template approach for Moscow, defined from above by urban election committee (and, in fact, the executive branch of the region). This property was manifested not only in the general policy on the registration of candidates, but also in the adoption of the Commission’s technical documents, uniformly distributed from CIC and adopted by the commissions without modification. TECs also changed its opinion on the issue of information on candidates in the data posters of candidates at the voting stations and the publication of them without photographs. 

«Golos» movement is concerned about the dependence of the organising commission actions, which often focus not on the law and the legitimate interests of the participants in the elections, but on the administrative instructions «from above», which carries risks of unlimited and massive use of an administrative resource when a political order is available.

2. Limitation of passive voting right, violation of equality of rights of candidates and parties 

For the most part, the exclusion of candidates from the elections was due to their personal reasons. The most common reasons for the dismissal of candidates from the lists of parties remain the evidence of concealment of convictions and the provision of only a partial set of documents. For example, two representatives of CPRF and one from the «Communists of Russia» party, and another from LDPR, dropped out in RNO-Alania. In elections for the Kirov City Duma (Kirov region), one candidate from LDPR and a «A Just Russia» had also dropped out, also not all documents were submitted by 14 candidates from the CPRF list. There are cases of removing from listing due to the dual nationality (e. g. two cases at the RNO-Alania elections). 

Unfortunately, as in previous years, «Golos» has recorded external administrative pressure on candidates and parties to discourage their participation in the elections. 

For example, in the Altai province, the «Yabloko» Party reported pressure on two candidates in elections to the Barnaul City Duma. «Both eventually withdrawn from participation — those are the lawyer Roman Aleshin and chief medical Officer Alexei Kushnarnenko of the district hospital.» The party headquarters also reported pressure on other candidates. They said that there were already three leaders of the territorial groups (two of them are quite famous in the city: The people’s artist and the famous coach) were forced to write statements renouncing the elections after a series of calls to them and their relatives. In addition, the pressure on candidates in other municipal elections (in Shelabolikha and Rubtsovsk) was reported by the Altai revolutionaries.

In the Kirov region, in the Kirov City Duma elections, the regional director of CPRF Sergey Mamaev complained about the pressure on the party’s candidates, which comes from the regional government. In particular, following an interview with Vladimir Beketov, the Deputy Prime Minister of the region, the Secretary of the Interior and Information policy, the Vice-President of the Kirov Council Anatoly Mashkin was forced to withdraw from the election.

The most serious situation occurred in Krasnodar territory, where a real administrative special operation was apparently held to prevent the election of the «Yabloko» party list. On July 16 th, a conference was held at the Krasnodar party’s office, which was attended by 19 of the 30 delegates in the local and primary offices. At the conference, the renowned environmentalist Eugene Vitishko was elected the new head of the regional office, the provincial list of 36 candidates and candidates for one-mandated districts was nominated. Before and after the Conference, delegates, as well as members of several branches of the party, were threatened by local administrations to make them refuse to participate in it. The threats came from local government officials and power structures. In particular, it was mentioned by the Chairman of the Korenovsk branch S. E. Konovalov.

On July 18, the former head of the regional office, Vladimir Ryzhaev, accompanied by police officers, broke into the party’s office demanding the confiscation of party property, including computers and organic technologies, claiming it’s his personal property. He also wrote a statement as though Vitishko had stolen his personal money from a safe in his office in the amount of 148 thousand rubles. As a result, the work of the Regional Office for the preparation of the papers was frozen for several hours. The party’s seal was also lost during the search of the office. On the same day, the territorial administration of the DOJ around the Krasnodar territory concluded that the conference held on July 16 was in violation of the party’s charter because the new branches and members of the party did not have the right to participate in it. On July 21, Vitishko filed a complaint to the Oktyabrsk District Court of Krasnodar city. On the same day, the party applied the documents for the registration of the list. 

On July 22nd, the election commission of Krasnodar territory decided to reject the «Yabloko» party in registration on several grounds: In connection with the position of the DOJ on July 16th, in connection with the lack of documents for a number of candidates (21 of 36), which resulted in their de-listing and, as a result, in a violation of the requirements for representation on the list of 50% of the members of the party and the nomination at least half of the territorial groups. According to the «Yabloko» headquarters, the cause of the lack of the documents was that the candidates were pressured and many were simply afraid to participate in the elections and did not provide documents. Also after the decision of the DOJ, some candidates decided not to hand over the documents, saying that elective committee would still refuse to register them. As a result of all these actions, the very promising new team of the «Yabloko» party in Krasnodar territory was disrupted. While the disruption of the party’s nomination did not seem to have taken place without the involvement of regional administrations and power structures.

In Krasnoyarsk territory, the initiator of the «Public Force of Norilsk „For clean air!“» and the candidate for the city council was Norilsk Anatoly Nevara has alleged the attempts to prevent the collection of signatures. According to him, he had been unable to open an account in «Sberbank» for 5 days. The police officers then, explaining their actions by anonymous calls about violation of the law, began to interview people who volunteered to assist him in collecting signatures. The candidate filed an application to the Public Prosecutor’s office. 

In the town of Lower Tagil of Sverdlovsk region, a candidate for the Lower Tagil city Duma deputy in the District № 2, Ivanov Alexander Petrovich, reported on the illegal pressure he had been subjected to by the NPC «Ural wagon factory» at his workplace. To prevent him from standing in the way of another candidate in this district, the head of metallurgical production, Roman Gorelenko. 

In the Yaroslavl region, in the course of the municipal elections, the Yaroslavl public was informed of the multi-million-dollar debts of the current deputy of the municipality and the candidate Edward Avdalyan. This information was illuminated by the ex-governor and the chief of the national support staff of acting Dmitry Mironov — Anatoly Lisicyn. As a result, a debt of 8 million rubles is reported. to have been returned to the municipality of Andréy Vlasov. But Avdalyan was still fired by the town’s political party «United Russia». The formal withdrawal of his candidature was linked to the publicity of his debts, but, according to our observers, this was because of his refusal to sponsor the self-nominated Shabanov and to cooperate with the disgraced ex-chairman Pavel Zarubin (being nominated from the «United Russia» party in one of the single-mandated districts).

In Moscow, a candidate for municipal deputies in the Filiovsky Park District, Vadim Korovin, reported in his twitter about the pressure on the voters by Andrey Mitina (who was elected as a deputy to the Council of Deputies of the Municipal District of Phili-Davydkovo in 2012, a non-permanent deputy, a member of the «United Russia»), to withdraw the signatures for his nomination. 

The principles of democratic elections and the Russian legislation assume that the authorities and officials must maintain political neutrality during the election period. In particular, this is directly relevant to the heads of the region when they are not directly involved in the electoral campaigns. Unfortunately, this principle is systematically violated by Russian officials and high-ranking state officials.

For example, on July 4, the governor of Krasnodar Territory, Veniamin Kondratiev, took part in a conference of the Regional Office of the party «United Russia», where the nomination of candidates for the election of deputies to the Legislative Assembly took place. In his statement, he said that: «United Russia» is a party of real affairs: with its support, schools, kindergartens, polyclinics, sports grounds are built, as well as the settlements are equipped with modern amenities. According to him, the party’s deputies in the Legislative Assembly of Krasnodar territory and the representative bodies of municipalities were actively working to carry out their pre-election promises, etc., according to the governor’s view, the well-being and stability of the province are directly dependent on Results of the election campaign. «There will be many who wish to stop us, but the Kuban needs a working parliament, deputy-practicians that will live up to people’s problems and solve them as their own,» Kondratiev quoted by Press service of the Krasnodar territory administration. Thus, the head of the region clearly proclaimed his political support for the «United Russia» party (note that Kondratiev himself is not in the party list and formally doesn’t take part in the election), and criticized the nomination of candidates from other Parties. 

«Golos» movement reminds that according to p. 7 of Art. 48 of «Federal law» as of 12.06.2002 N 67-XP «About the fundamental guarantees of voting rights and the right to participate in the referendum of the Russian Federation citizens» it is prohibited to conduct pre-election agitation by individuals who act for state or elected municipal posts, and state and municipal employees.

In general, the elections to the representative bodies of the regions and regional centres have the same trends as the «municipal filter» in the head election. Electoral commissions that organise elections (while indeed they are regional and local administrations) support the promotion and registration of those political parties and candidates who play a nominal role in a given region, namely play the role of «spoilers» or «technical» participants in the elections. 

At the same time, there is a regular problem with the regional offices of the parties, which in the region may be competing with the «big four» or whose leaders are able to unleash sharp criticism of the authorities during the pre-election campaign.