Golos Vows to Carry on Monitoring Despite USAID Moscow Office Shutdown

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

MOSCOW. Sept 20 (Interfax) – The independent election monitor Golos is searching for Russian sponsors to substitute grants from the closing Moscow office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Golos said some of its projects were endangered by the USAID pullout.

“Nevertheless, we will continue election monitoring no matter what,” says the Golos statement received by Interfax on Thursday.

“We realize that many of our organizational tasks are endangered now. It takes money to lease space for election monitoring staffs, to train observers, hire vehicles for transporting mobile monitoring teams and do other things. Therefore, Golos is actively searching for Russian sponsors to back up its election monitoring projects on October 14,” the human rights association said.

Russia will hold elections in regions on October 14.

“USAID was one of the few international funds supporting civil activity in election monitoring. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not deny that the urgency of ousting USAID projects on October 1, 2012, was linked, in particular, with the October election,” Golos said.

The association said its projects would be operational on October 14, including the map of election violations, a free hotline to collect information about election misdeeds, SMS-CEC, video observer and volunteer teams in 22 regions of Russia.

“Impediments created by the Russian authorities to international funds are the path of unconcealed curtailment of democratic reforms and deliberate confrontation with the democratic West. These are signs of the building of a closed authoritarian state, in which citizens will be unable to control the authorities or influence anything,” Golos said.

“Our government expects the termination of operations of international funds in Russia to automatically stop civil activity, including election monitoring. Golos says it will do the utmost to carry on the observation and to restore fair elections in Russia,” the statement said.

The U.S. Department of State announced on September 18 its decision to close down the USAID Moscow office. The Russian Foreign Ministry officially notified the United States on September 19 that the USAID activity in Russia must stop on October 1.