On elections in Russia
The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) is recognized by the Ministry of Justice "junk organization". The decision of the Russian authorities commented in an interview with DW, the head of this organization, Stefanie Schiffer (Schiffer Stafanie).
DW: Ms. Schiffer, were you surprised by the ban in Russia, European platform for democratic elections?
Stefanie Schiffer: Very surprised, we did not expect it. Our partner organization in Russia, a non-profit organization "Voice" on the one hand, working together with the Central Election Commission (CEC), on the other its activities in the regions is very limited. Such is the Russian reality. But the fact that, in fact, in respect of the parent organization, will be taken.
– What is said in the statement of the Prosecutor General’s office?
– We do not know. There is no judicial decision. There is a decision of the Prosecutor General’s office, which is agreed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by the Ministry of Justice. And we are not directly informed.
We have not received any letter or notification. And we did not know what exactly the Russian law was allegedly violated. We sent a letter to the Prosecutor General to obtain information, but still waiting for a response.
– EPDE became the thirteenth "unwanted" foreign organization banned in Russia. Previously it was the NGOs, mainly from the USA and from several European countries. EPDE is the first German NGO that fall under the ban. What does it mean for German-Russian relations?
– They will be even worse. Improvement in any case. The case of our organization is known to the government and will be discussed at the political level. In addition, we asked for support in "The". There we were assured that just do not recognize this decision.
– You’re talking about "The St Petersburg dialogue forum" created in 2011, the forum, which aims to carry out the dialogue between civil societies of the two countries. The EPDE is the first item on the agenda of the next meeting of the forum, which will be held in Moscow in early November?
– Do not know whether it will be the first, but in any case, this issue is among the topics for discussion.
– How should, in your opinion, to react now Germany?
– Germany should in any case discuss the situation with the Russian counterparts and to demand that the decision to ban was revoked. It is unacceptable that I, a member of the Board "The" can get a ban on entry into the Russian Federation. This is absolutely absurd and contradicts. Therefore, the German side – the government, the media, civil society, will do everything to overturn the ban.
– Ban organization has not only for you but especially for those citizens of Russia who cooperated with you. What would they be?
– This is the main issue for us. What EPDE in the future will not be able to hold events in Russia, not so important. In the past we have them rarely. The Central problem is that the Russians who work with us will be punished by fines, and if they do not stop working, and imprisonment.
And it’s draconian measures. In them we see an attempt to cut off Russian civil society from the West. And it would not be great for Western civil society.
– Because the Russian election observers are very well prepared. In their work they use internationally recognized methods of observation. In addition, they have developed their own methodology to identify the falsification of the elections and assess their quality.
These resources and this knowledge can now be used on the West, which is a huge loss. In addition, of course, will be limited to the exchange of experience in the elections between Russian and European observers. All this will lead to the curtailment and limitation of the work on the civil society level in Europe.
– Does the prohibition and limitation of the activities of such NGOs recognize the value of independent election observers?
– Without any doubt. Because authoritarian States around the world, including in Europe, have an impact on elections. In addition, they use a system of politically motivated surveillance on the ballot. Thus, it appears that it is exactly rigged. In these conditions, it is essential neutral, independent election observer, uses a sound methodological base. And of course, this observation will experience the pressure.
– As you consider or not to lift the ban on the activities of EPDE?
– I think it is. I’m an optimist. I believe that laws of the Russian civil society can not be durable.
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