The White House has expressed concern over the political pressure on Russia’s independent election monitoring group Golos ahead of Sunday general election.
Golos was fined 30,000 rubles (about $1,000) by a Moscow magistrate court on Friday for alleged violation of electoral legislation after lawmakers from three parliamentary parties asked that the group be investigated as an agent of foreign influence.
The move came shortly after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused “representatives of some foreign countries” of using NGOs to “influence the course of the election campaign” in Russia.
“The Obama administration is concerned with today’s decision by a Moscow court regarding the election monitoring NGO Golos, as well as what appears to be a pattern of harassment directed against this organization,” National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Friday.
“The United States has supported and will continue to support those citizens and non-governmental organizations working for free and fair elections in Russia,” Vietor said in a statement.
U.S.-backed Golos, which casts itself as the only organization that can ensure independent election monitoring in Russia, said it would appeal the court’s decision and deploy 3,000 observers during Sunday’s parliamentary elections despite what it sees as “a squeeze” put on it by authorities.