Russian prosecutors 'warn election monitors' ahead of polls
Russian prosecutors Thursday warned an election observer group that has exposed widespread falsifications ahead of legislative polls that it was being probed for breaching campaign rules, the NGO said.
Andrei Buzin, head of election monitoring at Golos Association, Russia's leading independent election observers, told AFP that an official from the prosecutors' office handed over a decree launching a probe into "breaches of the rules of campaigning," an administrative offence.
"It did not say anything more specific, something about sociological polls," Buzin said.
"I think this is just the start. Next they will issue a decree about holding a search," he warned. There was no immediate comment from prosecutors.
Russia is voting in parliamentary elections on Sunday and NGOs as well as parties in opposition to the dominant United Russia of Vladimir Putin have alleged a swathe of violations by the authorities.
The association documents electoral fraud through the "map of violations" website (www.kartanarusheniy.ru).
Three members of parliament recently asked prosecutors to probe the group, which is also to be the subject of a muck-raking documentary on NTV television on Friday.
The channel's website says the show will expose "electoral technologies paid for by foreign grants."
"Of course it is a single campaign. It started in newspapers and has moved to television," Buzin said. "The main aim of all these acts is to distract us from our work: observing the elections."
The moves against Golos come after Putin at the weekend warned foreign countries not to interfere in the parliamentary polls, saying they were paying NGOs in Russia to "influence the course of the election campaign".
© 2011 AFP