Golos Wins in Court

A local branch of the Russian human rights group Golos Samara won a significant legal victory yesterday. According to Kommersant, the Russian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Golos in a suit filed by the Samara branch of the Federal Registration Office, FAS. FAS registers social, religious, and political organizations. The court ruled against the Samara office’s closure of Golos for six months in December. Local officials charged that Golos did not file documents describing its “activities, sources of finance, and election monitoring practices.” Liudmila Kuzmina, a Golos coordinator called the decision a “big victory.” “Chinovniki need to report that everything in the province is quiet and calm,” she said. “The Registration office, after having found imperfections in our documents, didn’t allow enough time for their removal. They immediately went to court forgetting about the notion of a legal person’s integrity.”

A victory for sure, but a bittersweet one. Golos Samara was taken out of both the Duma and Presidential election. I wonder if the Russian government is learning the power of the law. You can violate it for a short period of time, and then hand the victims a victory in court ex post facto. It’s a win-win for the state. It gets rid of pesky election watchers at the same time you show that you really do uphold the law.