Verification of signatures of self-nominated candidates in Kostroma ended with scandal: members of election commissions were caught in collecting autographs, which was forbidden to do by law. This was reported by the press service of the State Duma candidate Roman Vanchugov. The regional election committee confirmed that some signatures were collected against the law.
Candidate Roman Vanchugov sent a request to the Central Election Commission and a statement to the Prosecutor General considering events during verification of signatures in support of a candidate. The meeting of the working group of regional election committee revealed that 27 of the nearly 900 collectors were members of electoral commissions, and some of them were deputy chairmen and secretaries of the Precinct Election Commissions (PECs), had access to lists and personal data of voters.
'They handed over an average of 200 signatures – for comparison, no more than 20-30 account for every "ordinary" collector. The total number of signatures collected by the PEC members was more than 1.5 thousand. This is almost 10% of the total filed amount in Kostroma. Most of collectors found guilty of illegal actions are members of the party "United Russia",' was said in the candidate's headquarter.
Candidate lawyers believe that members of election commissions "knowingly participated in obviously illegal actions", because each of them has signed an agreement in which it was clearly stated that the collector could not be a member of any election commission. Actions of members of election commissions collecting signatures can be qualified as abuse of power, which establishes criminal liability. It was found out that it was not the first year the representatives of election commissions in the Kostroma region were taking part in the collection of signatures and campaign events, retaining their positions.
'Kostroma Election Commission discredits itself and casts doubt on the effectiveness of the electoral system in Russia. The incident has all the hallmarks of a large, well-planned scam,' reported in the candidate's headquarter, adding that they hoped for intervention of the CEC.
Candidate representatives suggested that the collection of signatures was organized in order to prevent registration of self-nominated candidate.
According to the representative of the movement in defense of the rights of voters "Voice" Alexander Zamaryanov, similar incident already took place in the Kostroma region during the election campaign of deputies of the regional Duma in 2015.
'During the authentication of documents from the candidates' of the Party of the Cause it turned out that the signatures were collected by members of election commissions. Because of this, a significant portion of signatures has been recognized as unauthentic, and a number of prominent politicians were not able to continue to participate in the election race. For example, the deputy of the regional Duma Maxim Postnikov has left competition; he ran in the Duma for a new term. However, I do not know if members of election commissions who illegally took part in the collection of signatures were punished,' Alexander Zamaryanov said.
Assistant to the chairman of the election commission of the Kostroma region Olga Ese commented on the situation in an interview with «7x7»:
'Today, we held a working group to discuss the results of the signature verification of the candidate. We considered the matter. Final statements and discussions of each questionable signature. During signature verification it was found that a few people who have collected the signatures were currently the members of precinct election commissions with decisive votes. On that basis signatures were declared invalid,' Ese said.
It was difficult to say the exact amount of signatures rejected in the election commission, because the working group meeting on the approval of the final report was scheduled for August 10.
'There is no other information. Something concrete can be said after the working group meeting. Again, this is not a permanent solution, because the decision on registration or refusal of registration of candidates will be made by the district election commission. Currently, the district election commission had no notifications or complaints from Vanchugov. The Central Election Commission did not forward the complaint yet,' the chairman of the electoral committee assistant concluded.