31 Oct 2019 11:24

Russia's electoral system works, does not need drastic changes - Justice Ministry

STRASBOURG. Oct 31 (Interfax) - The outcome of the September 8 elections in Russia did not reveal the need for drastic changes in election laws, while "the negative background" of the Moscow City Duma election was created by the opposition media and disqualified candidates, Russian Deputy Justice Minister Sergei Bystrevsky said.

He took part in the discussion of the report on democracy in Russia prepared by members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CoE).

"As to why the background was so negative, perhaps it was created amid election campaigns by the opposition media and candidates disgruntled by their disqualification from elections," Bystrevsky said in response to the question whether legislative measures were taken after the Moscow protests to facilitate the candidate registration process.

"The Central Elections Commission looked into every disqualification case; the inquiry was open and transparent, and any doubts were interpreted in candidates' favor. Court rulings confirmed the legality of disqualification of these candidates. I should say that candidates who break the law during the collection of signatures and submit fake signatures must not be allowed to run," Bystrevsky said.

Russia saw 6,000 elections on September 8. A total of 118,562 candidates were nominated, and 47,491 candidates and representatives of 25 parties won, he said.

"Considering this number of election campaigns, we have seen only a handful of complaints. So, why make any drastic changes if we are doing well. There are no complaints, which means the electoral system is working," Bystrevsky told the press after the report was discussed.

The report on local and regional democracy in Russia was prepared by two members of the CoE Congress of Local and Regional Authorities committee, Haarlem Mayor Jakob Wienen (Netherlands), and Northern Ireland Assembly member Stewart Dickson (United Kingdom), after two monitoring missions accomplished in Russia in October 2018 and March 2019.

The report suggested, in particular, that Russia should cancel the municipal filter.

It also noted limited powers of Russian local authorities and the absence of direct mayoral elections in certain municipalities.