EPDE Publication

European politicians to legitimize constitutional changes in Russia


Kremlin-friendly foreign politicians, journalists, lobbyists and activists have once again been invited to praise the disputed “all-Russian voting” on the constitutional amendments proposed by President Putin. The main motivation behind inviting foreign politically biased observers to the “voting”, which has no basis in Russian legislation, is to provide a semblance of international legitimacy to constitutional amendments that have already been approved by the Russian parliament.


EPDE Publication

Problematic International Observation of the Azerbaijani 2020 Parliamentary Elections


In this latest EPDE report, Anton Shekhovtsov investigates how politically biased international election observers were used by Azerbaijani authorities to relativize critical findings of the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) to the early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.


EPDE Publication

Fake election observation as Russia's tool of election interference: The Case of AFRIC


In this report, Anton Shekhovtsov analyzes how the structures of "Putin's Chef" Yevgeniy Prigozhin interfere in electoral processes in African countries with the help of fake election observation. This report focuses on the Association for Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC), an organization that Shekhovtsov has previously investigated and found to be involved in politically biased election observation and pro-Kremlin efforts, and is linked to Prigozhin. 


EPDE Publication

Foreign Observation of the Illegitimate Elections in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2019


In Anton Shekhovtsov’s newest study, he analyzes how the presence of “foreign observers” during the “parliamentary elections” in the so-called “Republic of South Ossetia” and of the “presidential elections” in the so-called “Republic of Abkhazia” in 2019 was underpinned not by the actual need to observe the “elections”, but rather by the intent to mimic legitimate international election monitoring in order to create an impression that South Ossetia and Abkhazia were legitimate independent states. 


EPDE Publication

Controversial "International Observation" at the 2019 Regional elections in Russia


In Anton Shekhovtsov’s newest study, he analyzes how Russian officials invited "international experts" with known involvement in various pro-Kremlin efforts to observe the regional elections in Moscow and how they were used by officials, pro-regime media and organizations to legitimize the electoral process and neutralize the negative effect of refusing to register independent opposition candidates for the elections to the Moscow City Duma.


EPDE Publication

Politically Biased Election Observation – A Threat to the Integrity of International Institutions


The booklet "Politically biased election observation—a threat to the integrity of international institutions" contains EPDE reports by Anton Shekhovtsov on politically biased election observation missions to the presidential election and the regional elections in Russia, the illegitimate presidential election in Crimea, the elections in Cambodia and Zimbabwe and the illegitimate “general elections” in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which all took place in 2018.


Parliamentary Elections

The Globalisation of Pro-Kremlin Networks of Politically Biased Election Observation

Cambodia and Zimbabwe

In Cambodia, parliamentary elections were held on 29 July 2018, in Zimbabwe on 30 July 2018. The “senior delegation of the international observers” (in the Cambodian case) and the AFRIC’s observation mission (in the Zimbabwean case) offered positive – and sometimes clearly politically charged – assessments of the elections in both countries, and their statements were widely disseminated by the state-controlled media to give an impression of overwhelming Western satisfaction with the conduct of the elections.


Donetsk and Lugansk Elections

Foreign Observation of the Illegitimate General Elections in the DPR and LPR


The international community considered the “General elections” in Donetsk and Lugansk as illegitimate and did not send any observers to monitor them. Aiming to fill the void of legitimacy, the “authorities” of the DPR and LPR invited dozens of “international observers” from countries such as Austria, Canada, France, Italy and  Germany. None of them were transparent about the methodology they employed for observing the election processes and, therefore, violated the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers. We have identified their names and their background.


Regional Elections

Politically Biased International Election Observation at the 2018 Regional Elections in Russia


The majority of the international experts, who attended the regional elections in several Russian oblasts during the so-called single voting day, have a history of participating in various pro-Kremlin efforts. Although they were not officially accredited by Russia’s CEC as election observers, the Russian media and individual members of the CEC often referred to them as such. See the analysis of media publications on the elections and profiles of the international experts in our latest report.


EPDE publication

Politically biased election observation—a threat to the integrity of international institutions

In recent years, we have witnessed the increasing phenomenon of “biased observation”. EPDE reacts to this trend with the new publication "Politically biased election observation—a threat to the integrity of international institutions". The booklet comprises analyses and recommendations that help to identify and react to any kind of politically influenced election observation.


Presidential Election

Politically Biased Foreign Electoral Observation at the Russian 2018 Presidential Election

Using OSINT methods we have identified 160 foreign observers who monitored the presidential election in Russia (125 observers out of 439) and Russia-annexed Crimea (35 observers out of 43). The majority of these observers are members of political parties from across the political spectrum, ranging from the far left through the centre-left and centre-right to the far right.


Presidential Election

Foreign observation of the illegitimate presidential election in Crimea in March 2018

Reputable monitoring organisations did not send any missions to observe the Russian presidential election in Crimea held on the 18th of March 2018. Aiming to give domestic and international legitimacy to the election in Crimea, the Russian authorities invited, via a number of organisations, 43 foreign observers who obtained accreditation from the CEC and illegally travelled to Crimea to monitor the electoral process there.


Presidential Election

Preliminary report on the Kremlin-friendly international electoral observation

Several established organisations monitored the Russian presidential election on the 18th of March 2018. However, there were around 300 electoral observers who monitored the election upon individual invitations from the State Duma and Federation Council. Preliminary research suggests that these observers can be referred to as Kremlin-friendly, as their impressions about the electoral process were positive already before the electoral process took place and fully complied with the official position of the Kremlin.


Golos Analytical Report

“Electoral tourists” from abroad: Who are they?


There were no official international observers at the September 10, 2017 elections, but election commissions and media reported about a group of foreigners who came to Russia with the informal status of “foreign experts.” Despite the fact that they had no official status of international/foreign observers, and, according to Russian law, could not be present in the voting premises, they were welcomed by the election commissions and allowed to spend time at the polling stations.


EPDE Policy Paper

Detection and prevention of politically biased Election Observation (“Fake Observation”) in the OSCE Region


This policy brief was prepared by the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) to evaluate the increasing impact of politically biased election observation and to contribute to the identification of countermeasures. The Paper was developed ahead of the experts’ Round table “Improving the Accountability of Parliamentarians in Election Observation” hosted by the European Parliament’s Democracy and Election Group (DEG) and the EPDE on March 7th 2017 in the European Parliament in Brussels.