Russia silences largest Russian voter watchdog

The head of Golos, Russia’s largest independent election watchdog was detained at Moscow’s main airport and her laptop seized on the charge that she was using pirated software. Then yesterday the organization’s website was shut down. Golos deputy director Grigory A. Melkonyants said that pressure from authorities had mounted to the point that Golos’s 3,000 election monitors might not be able to observe voting on Sunday.

There is nothing wrong with your screen. Here is what you’d see by visiting the Golos website:

Golos website and election tracking maps have been shut down.

On Friday at the request of the government, a Moscow court ruled that Golos had broken Russian law in publishing citizens’ complaints of campaign abuses along with a map of where abuses were taking place. In the video below you can see two unidentified young men storming into Golos’ Moscow office last week:

Government prosecutors claim that Golos was receiving foreign financing and and therefore not qualified to monitor the election.

According to the Moscow Times newspaper, several prominent political commentators have suggested that the campaign to discredit Golos may suggest that authorities are planning a massive vote-rigging effort and are trying working to discredit Golos, the only Russian organization in place to expose election fraud.