Russian Public Chamber: NGOs should keep monitoring elections

Human rights activists should be allowed to monitor elections as public observers, said Georgy Fyodorov, a member of the Russian Public Chamber and Director of the Civil Control Association.

"We (Civil Control) will propose representatives from relevant public organizations and associations of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to be registered as public observers," Fyodorov was quoted by the Public Chamber as saying on Wednesday.

By law, only representatives of candidates, political parties and mass media can be present as observers at polling stations, while human rights activists have to register as journalists to monitor the voting process, he said.

"As the idea of public monitoring is becoming increasingly popular, in particular, the preparation of the relevant federal bill, I consider such a state of affairs to be inappropriate. The legal gap must be eliminated," the human rights activist said.

Despite the requirement to determine the number of observers at a particular polling station, the registration process must not be used by officials as a tool of restricting access for "inconvenient people," he said.

"From the organizational point of view, it would be good to know beforehand how many observers will visit a certain polling station. Another matter is that it cannot assume the form of accreditation with division into convenient and inconvenient people. Nor should it be allowed to restrict the possibility of visiting other polling stations. The registration process must be flexible and one for notification purposes," Fyodorov said.

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