Upcoming presidential elections in Russia and outcome of the Duma elections

Greens/EFA motion for a resolution

The European Parliament,

–     having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia with regard, in particular, to the one on the on the conclusions of the on the EU-Russia Summit in Nizhny Novgorod on 9-10 June 2011, the one on Preparations for the Russian State Duma elections in December 2011 of 7 July 2011 and the one on the upcoming EU-Russia Summit on 15 December 2011 and the outcome of the Duma elections on 4 December 2011,

–     having regard to the ongoing negotiations initiated in 2008 for a new agreement providing a new comprehensive framework for EU-Russia relations, as well as to the ‘Partnership for Modernisation’ initiated in 2010,

–     having regard to the EU-Russia Consultations on Human Rights and in particular to the latest meeting held in Brussels on 29 November 2011,

-    having regard to the final statement and recommendations issued at the close of the 14th meeting of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, held on 19-20 September 2011 in Warsaw,

-     having regard to the meeting of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum  held in Warsaw on 1./2. December 2011,

–    having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas enhanced cooperation and good-neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia are of crucial importance for the stability, security and prosperity of Europe; whereas the development of a strategic partnership between the EU and the Russian Federation can only be built on shared common values; whereas it is of the utmost importance to step up cooperation at international level between the two partners in all institutions, organisations and forums with a view to improving global governance and address common challenges,

B.  whereas the fairness of the Duma elections held on 4 December was gravely put into question since according to independent observers some of the basic conditions for holding elections such as public debate, a free press and equal conditions for all political forces in the country were not respected and, furthermore, serious obstacles were registered as regards the nomination of delegates and registration of parties, as well as lack of equal opportunities to campaign,

C.  whereas on 1st December 2011 the Prosecutor’s Office in Moscow opened an administrative case and fined Association Golos, Russian most experienced election monitoring group, charging that the organization has violated election laws by establishing a website for registration of election fraud and irregularities,

D.   whereas as regards the election day the OSCE/ODIHR stated that the "quality of the process deteriorated considerably during the count, which was characterised by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot box stuffing",

E.   whereas in its final report the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission pointed out that “the contest was slanted in favour of the ruling party “and that “this was evidenced by the lack of independence of the election administration, the partiality of most media, and the undue interference of state authorities at different levels” which did not provide the necessary conditions for fair electoral competition,

F. whereas the domestic election observation organisation GOLOS stated in its final report that "election was neither free nor fair, nor did it meet the demands of the Russian electoral code and international electoral standards" and that "the fundamental principles of elections were not adhered to, namely true competition and the equal rights of all sides involved, a neutral administration, independent election commissions, a vote conforming to the law and a correct vote-counting process",   

G.  whereas the police detained hundreds of opposition activists who attempted to hold rallies on 4th Dec and the following days in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities to protest against the running of the elections with no legal ground,

H.  whereas on 10 December 2011 at least 50.000 people rallied in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow calling for the cancelation of the result of the 4 December elections, new elections, the resignation of the Electoral Commission chief, an investigation into the alleged ballot rigging and the immediate release of arrested protesters,

I.   whereas on 22 December in an address to the Duma President Medvedev announced a number of changes to the political system among which the formation of a new independent public television service, simplified procedures for parties and presidential candidates, the return of direct elections for regional governors and an investigation of electoral fraud,  

J.   whereas on 28 December 2011 some 80.000 Russians took to the streets of Moscow and gathered on Sakharov Prospekt calling for Prime Minister Putin to step down and the December 4 parliamentary elections to be rerun fairly,

K. whereas high profile personalities urged the Russian authorities to adopt a conciliatory approach and offered to mediate between the demonstrators' representatives and the government,

L.  whereas a group of 16 Russian public figures and activists have founded the League of Voters, a new organisation which aims to prevent election-rigging and generally promote public participation in politics,

M. whereas on 4 February tens of thousands people joined a march calling for honest elections while in another part of the capital thousands people rallied in support of Vladimir Putin,        

N.  whereas in June 2010 the EU and Russia adopted a joint declaration on the priorities of the new Partnership for Modernisation aimed at modernising the economies and the societies of both parties; whereas, in this regard, the parts of the work plan including concrete proposals and projects for cooperation and assistance in the field of human rights and rule of law had little substantial follow-up,

O.  whereas freedoms of expression, association and assembly in Russia are still threatened and the initiatives and activities of human rights defenders, independent civil society organisations, political opponents, independent media and ordinary citizens are often restricted or hindered and are of particular concern in the North Caucasus and other parts of the Russian Federation,

P.   whereas, as a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, the Russian Federation is committed to respecting democratic principles and human rights with regard, in particular, to freedom of speech and of assembly,

Q.  whereas Russia has twice prevented the UN Security Council from adopting a resolution on the Syrian crisis calling for support of the Arab League plan backed also by the EU, 

1.   Stresses that the credibility of the Russian Federation at international level and the legitimacy of its authorities both outside and inside Russia depend on free and fair electoral processes, consolidated democratic institutions and the respect of the rule of law;

2.   Condemns the crackdown of the police on peaceful demonstrations protesting election irregularities and frauds reported by international observers and documented by recorded videos of average citizens; calls on the Russian authorities to fully respect freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in compliance with the constitution of the Russian Federation;

3.   Regrets that almost 3000 challenges to cases of electoral malfeasance, fraud and violations at individual precincts were rejected by the relevant courts sand a few are still pending;

4.   Calls on the Russian authorities to fully address all the shortfalls and deficiencies highlighted by both the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission and the independent organisation Golos and to quickly implement all of their recommendations with a view to paving the way for real free and fair presidential elections; calls, in particular, for and efficient, accurate, impartial and reliable observation of the elections in accordance with OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe standards;

5.   Reiterates, in this regard, its call for the annulment of the 4 December Duma elections and the conduct of new free and fair elections based on the election standards as defined by the OSCE and after fundamental changes in the electoral code are made allowing the registration and participation of all oppositions parties;

6.   Calls, furthermore, for a review of the format and activities of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee;  

7.   Urges the authorities to stop all attempts to force teachers and employees at state-run companies to take part in pro-Putin rallies and keep school students away from opposition protests and calls on them to stop misusing administrative resources for political ends;

8.   Regrets the decision of the Central Elections Commission to disqualify Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky from running for president, which prevents his party from fielding observers;

9.   Takes the view that the Partnership for Modernisation cannot be limited to economic cooperation and technological innovation but must go along with an ambitious process of domestic reforms that include the consolidation of democratic institutions and of a reliable legal system, the respect of the rule of law and the unhindered development of a genuine civil society; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Russian Government to define the necessary steps to be taken in order to achieve these goals;

10. Welcomes the consolidation of a genuine civil society in Russia; points out, in this respect, that the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum could be a key player in boosting up the Partnership for Modernisation in the fields of human and civil rights, fight against corruption, rule of law; 

11. Points Deeply regrets the further deterioration of the overall human rights situation in Russia and the absence of any evolution on the modalities of the EU-Russia Human Rights consultations; expresses its concern regarding this dialogue which has become a process rather than a means to achieve measurable and tangible results; insists once more on the necessity to include public indicators of progress into these human rights consultations, to improve the modalities for the dialogue such as alternating the location of the consultations, the interaction between Russian NGOs and Russian authorities on the occasion of this process and on the composition of the Russian delegation, and to issue public assessments of progress on the occasion of EU-Russia Summits and following the Partnership Council meetings;

12. Calls on the Russian authorities to release all political prisoners according to a list of 39 detainees amongst others Michal Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev made public by the League of Voters and other NGOs;

13. Expresses its deep concern about the misuse of Anti-Extremism legislation that provided the illegal implementation of criminal laws against civil society organisations like Memorial and religious minorities such as Jehova’s Witnesses and Falun Dafa and the improper bans on extremism ground of their materials;

14. Strongly condemns the adoption by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg of a law against the 'propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism and paedophilia to minors'; equally condemns similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions; calls on all Russian authorities to stop limiting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; calls on the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission to convey the European Union's opposition to these laws;

15. Deplores the decision of Russia to veto together with China at the UN Security Council a draft resolution, backed by all 13 other members of the Security Council, supporting the call of the Arab League for a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system and condemning the violent crackdown on the opposition forces and calls on Russia to halt immediately all arms and defence equipment sales to the Syrian regime;  

16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to Vice President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation.