Experts Call for Russian Electoral Reform
MOSCOW—Fair elections in Russia are severely undermined by executive interference as well as poor and arbitrarily enforced regulations, a panel of experts said yesterday. The call to restrict opportunities for the misuse of state resources in election campaigns came during a two-day roundtable in Moscow, attended by political party representatives, public officials, civil society advocates, and independent journalists.
The misuse of state—or "administrative"—resources in election campaigns are a major source of corruption that is both damaging to the democratic process and expensive to the public purse. Administrative resource misuse in the December 2003 Duma elections was highlighted in a report presented at the roundtable, which was organized by the Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative/Transparency International-R who monitored the elections together with the Open Society Justice Initiative. The report includes recommendations for the reform of electoral and state television regulations and their enforcement.
Following the meeting, a group of leading Russian nongovernmental organizations, including the recently-formed coalition For the Right to Choose and the Civic Congress of Russia, pledged to promote campaign regulation reform.
"In the absence of proper mechanisms of control or accountability, a vast range of public resources and public goods are used in Russia to advance particular political aims," said Yuri Baturin, Chairman of the Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative/Transparency International-R. "The present report is an important step in recognizing the problem, but only a first on the long road toward creating demand for reform of the system and achieving this goal throughout the Russian Federation."