On 12 March 2018 Chairperson of the CEC of Russia Ella Pamfilova held a meeting of the Working Group on Preliminary Complaint Investigation. Six cases of possible violations during the electoral campaign for the election of the President of the Russian Federation from various regions of Russia were considered at the meeting.
The first complaint was based on an audio clip recorded by a student of the Buryat Republican Information and Economic College in Ulan-Ude. The presented audio recording contains a woman's voice encouraging students to write applications and come to vote at the polling station located in the college. According to the author of the record who gave his comments via a videoconference while being in the Election Commission of the Republic of Buryatia, the recording was remounted by someone, as a result it seems that at the meeting with students the group curator forces everyone to go to the elections which is not true.
"I hope that the conclusions will be drawn and this will not happen again in other educational institutions," Ella Pamfilova noted. "I think that there are grounds for the transfer of this file to the prosecutor's office, so that a principled assessment of what happened is made. If this is a provocation and everything is distorted in the recording, this will be one issue. If the facts of coercion are indeed confirmed, then the situation will be completely different."
The complaint of a St. Petersburg resident contained information that his wife, an employee of the kindergarten No.120, was forced to vote by attaching her to another polling station with an urgent request to vote for one of the registered candidates for the post of the President of the Russian Federation.
The Working Group noted that this was an example of a false appeal, since there is virtually no discussion point. During the investigation it was found out that the complaint was written by the former husband of the woman mentioned in the application who was allegedly forced to vote. She herself knew nothing about this application.
"The tendency of falsification of complaints in order to discredit the elections is growing," Ella Pamfilova said. "Such facts must be identified in time."
In one of its reports, the Movement for Defence of Voters' Rights "Golos" pointed out that the chairman of the Physical Culture and Sports Committee of the Republic of Altai approved the plan of voting of the republic’s athletes for one of the registered candidates for the post of the President of the Russian Federation. Two complaints on the same subject were received by the Electoral Commission of the Republic of Altai.
As part of the investigation, it was found that such a plan had never been registered with the authorities and no one had ever initiated its development, and a copy of the so-called plan was posted on the Map of Elections Violations website. Complaints were sent to the prosecutor's office.
"There are many similar false plans and false guidelines," said the Chairperson of the CEC of Russia. “Therefore, a fast reaction is very important. It is necessary to grab the hand of the violator or the violation falsifier in time."
The outcome of the investigation was summed up by Member of the CEC of Russia Alexander Kinyov: "On the website of “Golos”, which is called "Map of Elections Violations”, there is fake news, which, according to preliminary findings, has been made on the basis of a false document."
The Working Group considered a complaint from the Rostov Region concerning using administrative resources with the aim of forcing employees of the Federal Customs Service to participate in the election of the President of the Russian Federation.
The CEC of Russia received an answer from the Electoral Commission of the Rostov Region with the application of a letter from the Taganrog Customs from which it follows that the order to vote in the election of the President of the Russian Federation was actually issued by the Taganrog Customs in February 2018. However, later it was canceled by the administration of the Taganrog Customs.
"In fact, this means that the fact that this information was sent to us in time, prompted the customs to abolish the completely illegal decision," said Ella Pamfilova. "It is necessary to submit the information to the administration of the Federal Customs Service and duplicate it to the Presidential Administration of Russia."
The Working Group considered a possible violation of the procedure for pre-election campaigning in the village of Molokovo, Tver Region, where a teacher of a children's art school posted a video on his personal page of VK.com in support of one of the candidates for the post of the President of the Russian Federation surrounded by children.
As explained by the Election Commission of the Tver Region, the video was made by the author together with his students. He did not intend to replicate it and removed the video from the page. Nevertheless, the regional Election Commission requested a verification by the prosecutor's office.
Ella Pamfilova noted that the CEC of Russia does not regulate the Internet, but the legislation indicates the inadmissibility of involving minors in political agitation.
The CEC of Russia received information that employees of a structural subdivision of Gazprom in the Orel Region were forced to vote and to report on their visit to the polling station at a certain telephone number.
"There is no likelihood that this is happening in the Orel Region," said Member of the CEC of Russia Yevgeny Shevchenko, "because the phone number specified in the audio record belongs to Gazprom Telecom of the Vologda Region. In addition, the leadership of the Election Commission of the Orel Region sent four requests to the four Gazprom enterprises operating in the region. Two enterprises have already stated that they have nothing to do with the record. "
The Working Group decided to forward the files concerning this issue to the prosecutor's office.
"It is very important to rebuff all these information provocations," Ella Pamfilova summed up. "There are few violations, but even possible ones, including those outlined on the Map of Elections Violations, will be considered promptly so that it is clear where violations require action by law enforcement agencies and where there is simply a wave aimed at discrediting the election."
Ella Pamfilova noted that out of the almost 100 thousand citizens’ appeals to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, there are only 386 complaints about possible violations of the electoral legislation. 150 of them in written form.