The co-chair of the Russian organization of election observers Golos (Vote), Grigory Melkonants, was arrested in Russia Today. This was reported by the French news agency. According to his lawyer, the Russian authorities suspect Melkonians of being involved in an “undesirable organization”.
Melkoniants’ arrest comes at a notable moment. Regional elections in Russia are scheduled for September. The Russian authorities also want to organize polls in the four illegally annexed Ukrainian provinces. A year later, President Vladimir Putin’s term ends and new presidential elections are held.
The NGO Golos, which monitors the integrity of elections in Russia, has been under fire for some time. In 2021, the authorities put the organization on the list of “foreign agents”, but Golos refused to stop its activities. In the 2011 State Duma elections, Golos played a major role in exposing massive electoral fraud.
It is unknown if today’s arrest will affect Golos’ control of the ballot. There is no question of “fair” elections in Russia anyway, where the most important members of the opposition are serving long prison sentences. For example, Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Yashin were recently sentenced to 25 and 8 years in prison, respectively. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s 19-year sentence was extended earlier this month.
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