(Moscow) – Russian authorities on July 7, 2015, searched the Moscow office of Golos, the country’s leading election monitoring organization, and the homes of four Golos members, Human Rights Watch said today. The searches appeared to be part of a broader government crackdown on the independent monitoring group.
Criminal investigators searched the Golos office and the apartments of Grigory Melkonyants and Roman Udot, co-chairs of Golos; Tatyana Troinova, the executive director; and Valentina Denisenko, a former staff member. Later that day, investigators also searched Golos’ Moscow office. Authorities said that the searches were linked to criminal proceedings for alleged tax evasion that began in February against Ludmila Kuzmina, head of the Samara branch of Golos. Kuzmina denies the charges and has said the investigation is designed to intimidate her. Golos has campaigned to support Kuzmina, calling the prosecution political.