The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) is committed to free and democratic elections throughout Europe, including in Russia. It represents the interests of civil society and independent European election observation organisations.
Because of this commitment, EPDE has become the target of orchestrated smear and defamation campaigns by the Russian media in the run-up to the Russian presidential election.
On 11 March 2018, the state-controlled TV channel ren.tv broadcast a „reportage", allegedly demonstrating interference by EPDE in the Russian election campaign on the basis of secretly recorded telephone conversations between EPDE board member Stefanie Schiffer and the Russian election observation organisation „Golos“. Numerous facts were altered, quotations were taken out of the context, and facts were manipulated. Half a year earlier, in September 2017, ren.tv broadcast a no less defamatory program with similar content.
On 13 March 2018, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation without any court decision included the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) in the list of "undesirable organizations“. Since then EPDE has been prohibited to engage in any activity in the Russian Federation. The organisation's website is blocked in Russia.
On 16 March 2018, another program was broadcast on the state-controlled NTV channel, which also used illegally recorded telephone conversations as well as video footage, recorded by a hidden camera. The program was also supposed to serve as evidence for the alleged influence of Ms. Schiffer on the Russian Movement for Defense of Voters’ Rights „Golos“.
On the same day, 16 March 2018, Mrs. Schiffer received a phone call, allegedly from the chairman of the Ukrainian parliament. During the conversation, matters of EPDE internal working methods and cooperation with the „Golos“ movement were discussed. In fact, the interlocutor of Ms. Schiffer in this conversation represented either the Russian media or intelligence service. The conversation was recorded without the knowledge or consent of Mrs. Schiffer, edited in a manipulative form and subsequently published on youtube.
The same recording was also used in the a defamatory program, which was shown on 23 March on NTV.
According both to Russian and German law, the use and broadcast of secretly recorded video and audio materials without the consent of the persons involved is illegal. EPDE has therefore filed a complaint and will bring this matter to court.
EPDE refers to the fact that international cooperation in the field of election observation is legitimate, lawful and regulated by international agreements, signed by the Russian Federation (the Copenhagen Document, UN Resolution A/RES/53/144, and the Code of Good Practice on Electoral Matters).
We demand the responsible Russian authorities to refrain from media persecution and discreditation of EPDE and its Russian partner „Golos“, and immediately stop the unethical and illegal smear campaign against EPDE.
Please find below the statement in German: