GOLOS wins Sakharov Award
Russian election watchdog GOLOS is awarded the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award 2012.
The association, which is the only independent organization conducting nation-wide election observation in Russia, wins the prize for its “outstanding efforts to promote democratic values through free and fair elections”, Helsinki Committee General Secretary Bjørn Engesland says in a statement.
Ahead of the November 2011 State Duma elections and the May 2012 presidential elections, the association recruited thousands of voluntary election observers. Together with newspaper Gazeta.ru, the association also opened the web project “Karta Narushenii”, a site displaying the number of election violations all over Russia.
GOLOS is represented in 48 Russian regions, among them both Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. The Murmansk branch of the organization in a statement after this May’s Russian presidential elections confirmed that a number of serious violations had taken place and that the vote therefore “could not be called absolutely fair”.
In Arkhangelsk, the local GOLOS unit in November 2011 opened a Museum on Election Violations, the first of its kind in Russia.
As GOLOS wins the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Sakharov Award, more Russian groups are nominated for other European human rights awards. According to Euractiv.com, the Pussy Riot punk band is among the favorites to win the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
The Russian physicist Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (1921-1989) first came to prominence as the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, but later turned his back to the suppressive Soviet system and became a subversive dissident. In 1970, he founded a committee to defend human rights and victims of political trials. In 1975 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts.