2016

Parliamentary Elections in Georgia 2016: FInal Report

The parliamentary elections held in Georgia on 8 October 2016, with repeat voting in a few precincts on 22 October and a second round of voting in a number of single-candidate constituencies on 30 October, were generally in line with international standards. However, the authorities need to investigate and address the serious shortcomings described in this report and by other observer missions.

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source: dw.de

EPDE board member Lilia Shibanova prevented from leaving the Russian Federation

Lilia Shibanova, the founder of the Russian election observation network "Association GOLOS" and a board member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) is currently being prevented from leaving the Russian Federation. While entering the Russian Federation in November 2016, she was a subject of a strict border control. The passport of Lilia Shibanova was apparently invalidated.

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Federal Elections in USA: Expert trip by EPDE and the Russian GOLOS

The U.S. and the whole world is in shock after the unexpected results of the U.S. presidential election. Once again, like in 2000, the candidate who won the popular vote lost the election as a whole after securing only a minority of the electoral college. But while Al Gore, who in 2000 lost the election to George W. Bush, received only about 500,000 votes more in the popular vote, now  the gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is already 670,000, and it is estimated to end up at about 2 million. News, articles and reports by the EPDE observers -

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EPDE monitors the polling in majoritarian districts in Georgia

On 30 October Georgia holds the second round of the parliamentary elections. 20 EPDE observers from eight countries are deployed around the country to observe the election process.

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Violence marred an overall orderly Election Day in Georgia

In general, with regard to both legislation and implementation, the elections on 8 October confirmed the trend in which Georgia’s recent elections have been more in line with international standards than what was previously the case. While voting was orderly in most cases, the situation deteriorated shortly before the closing of the polls when groups of unidentified persons started gathering around precincts. Three incidents observed by the Mission marred Election Day.

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Jaroslav Borka, MP Czech Republic, Communist Party

Fake Observers Praise Primaries in Occupied Territories in Eastern Ukraine

The internationally unrecognized “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republics” (“DPR”/”LPR”) held so-called “primaries” on October 2, 2016. Approx.  30 international observers made public statements on the high quality of the “primaries” in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions to the local and Russian newspapers. Among them were five members of right and left wing factions of the national and regional European parliaments.

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EPDE to observe the parliamentary elections in Georgia

EPDE together with its partner organisation Norwegian Helsinki Committee are observing the parliamentary elections in Georgia. 40 observers from 13 domestic citizen election observation organisations from eight countries will observe the conduct of the election day around the country.

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Aleksandar Nikoloski, PACE Vice-president and leader of the fraudulent PACE observation mission to Azerbaijan. Foto: independent.mk

International “Election Observers” Whitewash Fraudulent Referendum in Azerbaijan

On September,26 2016 Azerbaijan held a hastily called, and controversial, referendum. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Committee of Regions of the European Union, the notorious “European Academy for Election Observation” and a series of European politicians have issued overwhelmingly positive assessment of the referendum. EPDE is highly critical to their statements which stand in sharp contrast to the critical assessment made by local independent citizens’ election observers. EPDE is alarmed at the irresponsible behaviour of the above mentioned “international observers” who damage the institution of election observation, which should be based on well-established and transparent methodology, and be fair, objective and impartial. The behaviour of these members of parliaments also harms the reputation of the parliaments they are representing.

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ISFED: violations of the electoral legislation became frequent

As the electoral campaign moved into an active phase, violations of the electoral legislation became frequent. ISFED detected the following incidents during the reporting period: 3 cases of alleged political dismissals; 11 cases of intimidation; 12 cases of abuse of administrative resources; 8 cases of interference with campaigning; 6 cases of violence; 4 cases of possible vote buying; 2 cases of vandalizing party offices; 37 cases of destroying campaign materials 4 cases of using hate speech; 8 cases of campaigning by unauthorized individuals. 

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EMDS: Referendum in Azerbaijan failed to meet international standards

Due to shortcomings in situation of democracy and political freedoms prior to and during the Referendum, including the voting day, the Referendum failed to meet requirements of election legislation and international commitments of the country with regards to democratic elections.

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Statistical estimates of vote counting fraud during Russian State Duma elections by Sergey Shpilkin

At least four times in the modern history of Russian elections, vote counting fraud, as estimated statistically, had significant consequences for the political development. According to the statistical estimates of the Russian election expert Sergey Shpilkin, the amount of fradulent votes in favour of the "United Russia" during the State Duma elections  in September 2016 was 12,6 million, what allowed "United Russia" to regain the constitutional
majority in Duma. 

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ISFED preliminary report on Parliamentary elections in Geogia, October 8, 2016

During the reporting period a special electoral regime came into effect. In particular, the prohibition to amend budgets and increase the amount of unplanned welfare benefits became effective, special media regulations started to apply, and the staffing of precinct election commissions (PECs) by district level commissions (DECs) was completed. In addition, registration of electoral subjects came to an end: a total of 6 electoral blocs and 24 parties will be competing in the parliamentary elections of Georgia.

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OPORA appeals to foreign governments, international organizations, and NGOs concerning involvement of Crimea in the RF State Duma elections

Civil Network OPORA All-Ukrainian NGO calls on foreign governments, leading international organizations and national observation organization from different countries not to recognize the results of election to the State Duma of Russian Federation as an election, which corresponds to the generally recognized democratic standards and reflects the will of Russian electorate. This appeal is based on OPORA's extensive experience in independent election monitoring efforts and participation in international dialog dedicated to raising the quality of election process.

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Golos on Duma Elections: far from being free and fair

Considering that, regardless of this year’s reduced coverage of polling stations by independent observers, there were still reports of individual acts of ballot box stuffing, “carousel voting,” voting under pressure, and other irregularities, it is evident that these strategies have not been rooted out and are still widely used. Overall, the elections of deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the seventh convocation are far from being truly free and fair.

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Invitation to the Round Table “Electoral Authoritarianism in the OSCE Region - the Example of the Russian Federation“

Within the framework of the HDIM of OSCE participating States, EPDE is holding a side event on the topic “Electoral Authoritarianism in the OSCE Region - the Example of the Russian Federation“, which will take place on Friday, the 23rd of September, at 18.00-19.45 in the Meeting Room 2, Sofitel-Victoria Hotel, Krolewska Str. 11, Warsaw. This side event gives room for discussion whether the State Duma elections of September 18th 2016 again confirm this classification or whether a positive development towards more integrity, inclusiveness and transparency of the election process can be noticed. Key panelist of the round table will be Lilia Shibanova, Golos Movement,  Dmitry Oreshkin, “Narodnyi Izbirkom” project, Stanislav Andreichuk, Golos Movement,  Roman Udot, Golos Movement, Stefanie Schiffer, European Platform for Democratic Elections.

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Analitical report on the election campaign in the media, Parliamentary elections, Russian Federation, September 18, 2016

In contrast to the intense and lively campaign of 2011, the apathetic campaign of 2016 left no significant information trace. Although legislative changes were supposed to stimulate the media activities of non-parliamentary and small parties, this did not happen –“United Russia” totally dominated over other parties in both federal and regional media. The largest contributors to this outcome were the summer holidays and political passivity of many election “stakeholders.”  The chief new trends of the 2016 election year were thus: regionalization, the de-facto refusal of the ruling party to campaign on the federal level, and the “crowding out” of the non-parliamentary opposition to blogs and social networks.

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Analytical report on the agitation period, Parliamentary elections, Russian Federation, September 18, 2016

 The election campaign of 2016 showed that violations in election campaigning stem from the most diverse political forces and election participants. Among them are: lack of identification on campaign materials; improper placement of election campaign materials; procurement of campaign funding from sources other than election funds; placement of advertising in non-smoking areas; recruitment of children for campaigning activities; release of the so-called “black PR”; and others.

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Invitation to the public discussion "Russian elections to Duma - preparation for the Presidential elections?", September 21, 2016 in Berlin

European Platform for Democratic Elections and German Council on Foreign Affairs are holding a podium discussion on the topic "Russian elections to Duma - preparation for the Presidential elections?",  which will take place on September 21, 2016, from 12:30 till 14:00  in DGAP at Rauchstrasse 17/18, 10787 Berlin. Key panelists  Ilya Ponomarjow, member of the Russian Parliament in 2007-2016, Andrey Buzin, member of the Board of the Movement for Defence of Voters' Rights "Golos", Benjamin Bidder, journalist from the Spiegel Online, and Denis Volkov, Levada-Center, together with Stefan Meister will discuss of the results of the upcoming elections to the Russian Parliament.

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Parliamentary elections in Belarus did not meet a number of key international standards for democratic and free elections

The citizen observers inititive HUman RIghts Defenders for Free Elections critisize the lack of equal access to state media for all candidates, lack of impartiality of election commissions, facts of abuse of administrative resources in favor of the pro-government candidates, numerous facts of forcing voters to participate in early voting, non-transparency of some election day procedures.

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Belarus: Citizen election observers' conclusions on the conduct of the election campaign

In most regions, the conditions for campaigning were improved as compared to the previous elections. However, the candidates were not provided with equal rights; pro-government candidates enjoyed better conditions for campaigning: they made extensive use of the administrative resources, including electronic and print media.

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EMDS: Opinion on the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Azerbaijan and preparations to the Referendum

Оn 26 September 2016 Azerbaijan will hold a referendum which proposes to amend 29 articles of the Constitution. If adopted, it will result in strengthened executive branch with wide powers of the President at the expense of Parliament which will see its role as an important legal and political institution diminished. EMDS notes with regret that existence of political prisoners, including imprisoned journalists, human rights activists and political party members, as well as the situation of freedom of assembly, association and expression raises serious questions about democratic environment required for free and fair referendum.

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Russian Propaganda against Citizens' Election Observers from GOLOS-Movement

On Friday, August 26th - three weeks ahead of the elections to the State Duma - the Russian government-controlled TV channel NTV broadcasted a documentary "The Secret of Golos". This is already the fifth NTV report broadcasted in prime time which aims at discrediting citizens’ election observers in Russia. The film is based on materials filmed by hidden cameras and is a compilation of false accusations, outdated arguments and defamatory statements. The film has therefore to be assessed more as a product of pure political propaganda than as a piece of journalistic work.

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Parliamentary elections in Russia: Registration of political parties and candidates

74 parties had the formal right to nominate candidates for the election of deputies to the State Duma in 2016. However, only one-third of those parties attempted to take part in the 2016 State Duma elections because the Russian electoral system combines excessive demands on the number of signatures necessary for candidate registration with extremely rigid requirements for their inspection.

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Belarus: Progovernmental Candidates Dominate in Precinct Election Commissions

Opposition parties will be represented in the PECs by 53 people or 0.08% of the total composition, which is less than in the parliamentary elections of 2012 (61 people or 0.1% of the total composition of the PECs).The Central Election Commission has failed to contribute to greater political pluralism in the formation of the Precinct Election Commissions which are dominated by representatives of the pro-government political parties and public associations.

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First EPDE Capacity Bilding Camp took place in Moldova

On 25-30 July 2016 the first Capacity Building Camp of the EPDE took place in Moldova. Over 100 election observers, experts and volunteers from 13 EPDE member organizations participated in the event. The camp provided for several experts' presentations, trainings and seminars on capacity buidling, campaign financing, fake observation, statistical analysis, IT-security and other topics relevant for election observers. The camp was organized by the EPDE member organizations European Exchange, Association Promo-Lex and ISFED.

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Call for Applications: Expert on Capacity Building in Election Monitoring NGOs

EPDE aims to recruit an expert or a team of experts (Russian and/or English) to deliver a 2-hours “input session” and to ensure a support during several working sessions in the field of capacity building in election monitoring NGOs during a five-days summer camp which will be held on July 25-30, 2016 in Ukraine.

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EPDE held a seminar for election observers in Tbilisi

The two-day seminar which was held on June 18-19 in Tbilisi gathered 20 observers from different EPDE member organisations. The main focus of the seminar was put on establishing and maintaining contacts with journalists and mass media. The EPDE observers got an insight into the specific media formats in different countries. Also, they discussed how to effectively disseminate election findings among journalists and different media outlets.

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OPORA: Credibility of new Central Election Commission in Ukraine at risk

The submission of new members of the Central Election Commission by the President of Ukraine does not include candidates of three out of six parliamentary factions and therefore puts the credibility of the CEC at risk. Ignored were candidates of the all-Ukrainian Association “Batkivshchyna,” “The Opposition Bloc,” and Oleh Liashko’s Radical Party as well as of the MP group “Volia Narodu.”

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Belarusian EPDE members BHC and HRC Viasna publish first election monitoring' report

During the preparations for the parliamentary elections scheduled on 11 September 2016, Belarussian authorities ignored most of the recommendations made by citizens' observers and international mission of the ODIHR/OSCE. The government neither took measures to improve the human rights situation nor abandoned repressive practices against opponents of the regime.

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Serious restrictions of civic election observation in Armenia

Armenian Draft Electoral Code was adopted on 28 May 2016. Neither the amendments proposed by the civic election observers nor the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR nor Venice Commission of the Council of Europe have been implemented. The rights to observe elections by civic observers and mass media representatives have been seriously restricted.

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Armenia: Civic Observers' Opinion on the Draft Electoral Law

The Draft law was proceeded with violations of the procedures stipulated by the Armenian legislation. The authorities did not undertake sufficient steps to reach a broad consensus among relevant stakeholders. The Draft fails to meet the requirements of the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Venice Commission and do not reflect the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR. It fails to safeguard efficient mechanisms to maintenance the electoral register, does not prevent electoral fraud and unduly restricts voters’ rights and limits the rights of civic observers.

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Pro-governmental United Russia candidates illegally financed by EU-based companies

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections in the Russian Federation, EPDE member Golos presented its first findings at the European Parliament on April 7, 2016. According to the Golos experts, candidates of the government-controlled United Russia party are often illegally financed by foreign companies whose owners are registered in the countries of the European Union. At the same time, civic election observers were unlawfully labeled as “foreign agents” and thus banned from monitoring the polling. Also, unprecedented restrictions were recently imposed on journalists.

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The Statement of civil society organizations on the procedure for nominating and selecting candidates for membership of the Central Election Commission

The civil society organizations state the delayed publishing, on the official web page of the Parliament,  of the list of the candidates for the membership of the Central Electoral Commission(CEC), appointed by the parliamentary majority and the opposition. The civil society and the general public did not have the opportunity to follow the process at issue and to analyze the compliance of the candidates with the requirements provided for in the Electoral Code and the Law NO. 199 as of 16.07.2010 „ on the status of the persons performing responsible state positions”. Signatory organizations are also concerned about the refusal of the Parliament to support certain previously presented legislative initiatives aiming at ensuring a selection process based on clear principles of meritocracy and transparency of the candidates to CEC membership.

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Invitation to the Round Table “Russian Duma Election 2016: Insights for Action”

Ahead of Russian Duma Election 2016 the organisations Golos, IESC, EPDE and Silc are together launching a new initiative -presenting the results of their long-term election monitoring in Russia on the international level. They aim at presenting as widely as possible the facts about the course of the Russian Duma election campaign: illegal campaigning, violations related to election campaign financing, new obstacles to the opposition candidate registration, restrictions of observers' and journalists' rights and other violations. The first presentation on the long-term election monitoring results will be held on 7 April at 15.00 in the European Parliament. To attend the Round Table please register by April 5, 2016 here: amanda.lovkvist@silc.se

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Training for EPDE observers in Tbilisi

From 21-24 March two EPDE trainings for more than 40 observers from seven countries have taken place in Tbilisi, Georgia. The trainings aims were to strengthen the capacities of the EPDE member organizations in the work with volunteers and to maintain security standards in the area of internet communication. The trainings were organized by the International Society for Free Elections and Democracy (ISFED) with the support of the European Union.

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Further restrictions against citizens’ election observation in Russia

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections in Russia which are to be held in mid-September 2016, the government controlled parliament introduced new amendments to the election related legislation which further limits the rights of citizens’ observers to freely monitor the voting process. According to the new amendment, domestic observers are not able to conduct observation at several polling stations on the voting day but can be deployed only to one particular polling station. They have to be accredited at least three days before the start of the voting thus allowing the authorities to identify polling stations with and without election observers in advance.

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Ukrainian EPDE members CVU and Opora publish expert reports

Civic Network Opora and the Committee of Voters of Ukraine together with the international EPDE experts published four analysis on the conditions for democratic elections in Ukraine. Arkadii Lubarev from the Association Golos, Moscow, analyzed the implication of the new local election law. Steffen Halling from the Berlin based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) monitored the election campaign in the Donbass region controlled by the Ukrainian government.

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Citizens’ observers demand transparent drafting of new election law in Armenia

Citizen’s election observers urge the Armenian authorities to safeguard transparency of the process of drafting the new election law and to include all relevant experts, representatives of the civil society and the political parties in the process. The authorities should establish an updated voter register and provide proper voter lists, cancel undue restrictions of the observers’ rights and introduce cameras at the polling stations with live stream on internet. Citizens’ observers should be given the right to file complaints against the voting results if serious violations of the election law were documented.

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Anar Mammadli pardoned after almost 2,5 years in prison

On 17 March, Anar Mammadli, EPDE board member and the Director of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS), based in Baku, Azerbaijan, was pardoned by the president Aliev along with a number of high profile political prisoners. Mammadli was imprisoned on 16 December 2013 following the EMDS critical report documenting massiv fraud during presidential elections held on 9 October 2013. He was sentenced to 5,5 years in prison on 26 May 2014.

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Belarus: HRDFE offers support to the CEC on the implementation of the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations

In a proposal presented to the Central Election Commission of Belarus (CEC), the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections (HRDFE), an initiative of the EPDE members Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center Viasna, suggest a number of steps to implement the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR to ensure democratic conduct of the future elections in Belarus. 30 detailed instructions on implementation  proposed by HRDFE were apparently considered by the CEC working group. The HRDFE urges the authorities to ensure the transparency of the amending the electoral legislation by involving of independent experts, election observation NGOs and political parties in the process of drafting of election law.

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Parliamentary elections in Slovakia, 5 March 2016: EPDE press release

From 1 till 7 March 2016, 50 EPDE monitors from Poland, Russia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Lithuania, Sweden and Ukraine  observed the last stage of the parliamentary elections in Slovakia scheduled on 5 March 2016. During the election day, EPDE observers visited over 250 polling stations in all regions of the country. EPDE observers underlined the transparency of the preparation for the election day and the overall trust in and the integrity of the election day proceedings. However, some regulations of the 2014 adopted election law should be an subject of further consideration in order to strengthen the rights of voters and observers.

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EPDE observes the parliamentary elections in Slovakia

EPDE sends monitors to observe the parliamentary elections in Slovakia scheduled on 5 March 2016. The group is made up of 45 observers from the Association Golos (Russia), European Exchange (Germany), International Elections Study Center (Lithuania) and the Swedish International Liberal Center, in cooperation with the Polish Forum of Young Diplomats.

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Terms of reference for the Training on IT Data and Security for EPDE Platform Member Organizations

ISFED aims to recruit a trainer (or a team of two trainers) to deliver training on IT Data and Security.  The training should address the needs of the domestic citizen observer organizations of collecting, storing, and analyzing data with a strong focus on security issues.

The two-day training will be held in mid-March in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Interested applicants to in response to this Terms of Reference should submit the following documentation via email to HR@isfed.ge by February 18, 2016.

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Terms of reference for the Training on Volunteer Recruitment and Networking for EPDE Platform Member Organizations

ISFED aims to recruit a trainer (or a team of two trainers) to deliver a training on Volunteer Recruitment and Networking.  The training should address the needs of the domestic citizen observer organizations of establishing and maintaining volunteer base for their activities, including election observation. 

The two-day training will be held in mid-March in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

 Interested applicants to in response to this Terms of Reference should submit the following documentation via email to HR@isfed.ge by February 18, 2016:

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Voting violations and electoral fraud constitutional referendum of December 6, 2015 in Armenia


The constitutional referendum of December 6, 2015, did not comply with the norms prescribed in the Code of Good Practice on Referendums of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. The official results are largely forced and falsified, and the referendum and the document adopted through it are not legitimate. The observation mission recorded gross, multiple, and widespread examples of voting violations and electoral fraud.

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