On 10 September, at the OSCE-ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw, EPDE Chair Stefanie Schiffer called on the Russian Federation to withdraw the listing of EPDE and its Lithuanian member IESC as “undesirable organisations”. The listing had been imposed by the Russian Prosecutor General on 13 March 2018.
Ms Schiffer pointed out that as a consequence of the listing, both organisations are forbidden any sort of activity in Russia. “Russian citizens may be subject to legal prosecution if they cooperate with our organisations, (…) a criminalisation of all our partners in the Russian Federation – election observers, electoral experts, citizens, voters, volunteers with whom we used to cooperate for years.”
According to Ms Schiffer, this violates article 8 and 10 of the Copenhagen Document, as well as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. A fact which was criticized, among others, by the Venice Commission.
“The application of the law on EPDE and IESC means a criminalisation of all our partners in the Russian Federation – election observers, electoral experts, citizens, voters, volunteers with whom we used to cooperate for years. This is an absurd situation – not adequate for a European nation as the Russian Federation. ”
“We therefore urge the Russian General Prosecutor to revise the decision and to remove EPDE and IESC from the list of undesirable organisations.”
EPDE Chair Stefanie Schiffer
Stefanie Schiffer also noted that the listing of EPDE and IESC as undesirable organisations was accompanied “by smear campaigns in the Russian state owned TV channels NTV and REN TV.”
Within the HDIM’s working session on Democratic institutions and democratic elections, Ms Schiffer further drove the attention on the increasing phenomenon of politically biased election observation in the OSCE region.
Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation, Ms Schiffer argued, “are constantly inviting to their elections international observers who are doing anything – but not observing elections. This does not hinder them to give public evidence about their findings in national mass media. As a rule a positive one and often still before the closing of the polling stations. Thereby they violate immediately a whole series of agreements, standards and principles of good electoral practise.”
“EPDE is researching these fake observation missions. We publish our findings and call on the OSCE member states to take critical note of this phenomenon and to take action against it. These election fellow travellers and those who invite them are trying to destroy honesty of elections and trust into elections. We cannot tolerate that.”
EPDE Chair Stefanie Schiffer
She concluded by saying that EPDE is investigating such “fake” observation missions and calls on the OSCE member states “to take critical note of this phenomenon and to take action against it, because biased observers are “trying to destroy honesty of elections and trust into elections”.
Within the same context, EPDE recently published the booklet "Politically biased election observation—a threat to the integrity of international institutions" which comprises analyses and recommendations that help to identify and react to politically influenced election observation.
Previously at HDIM, EPDE hold the side event “Electoral reform in Eastern Europe”. The speakers were Pavel Postica (Promo-Lex Association, Moldova), Olga Kotsiuruba (Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine), Oleksiy Koshel (Committee of Voters of Ukraine), Arthur Sakunts (Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor, Armenia).