Mass searches conducted in homes of Russian voter rights activists

Co-chair of voter rights movement Golos detained

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case on organising the work of an “undesirable” organisation against the co-chair of Russian voters rights movement Golos, lawyer Grigory Melkonyants, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous source.


The co-chair of Russian voters rights movement Golos Grigory Melkonyants has been detained by law enforcement. He is considered a suspect in a case on collaboration with an “undesirable organisation”. He is currently being interrogated by the Investigative Committee, Russian state news agency TASS said on Thursday, citing his lawyer.

According to the news agency, the homes of Melkonyants and 14 of his associates, located in eight different regions of Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, were raided by law enforcement.

Russian independent human rights project OVD-Info reports that the Moscow flat of the Golos member Vladimir Zhilkin was searched by police officers today. The search could be connected to the “discrediting” the Russian army case opened against another member of the Golos movement, Mikhail Gusev. In October and November 2022, the homes of members of the movement were searched all over Russia in connection with this case.

Russian newspaper Izvestia reports that the home of the movement’s coordinator Vladimir Egorov was also searched. According to initial reports, he is accused of doing work for an organisation considered “undesirable” by the Russian government. The law enforcement officers seized his laptop, money, as well as an untouched box of old flares, according to the newspaper.

The Golos coordinator in St. Petersburg, Polina Kostylyova, also had her place raided, she told media outlet Rotonda. Police officers came to her home at 6 AM and asked to hand in her phone and laptop.

In Veliky Novgorod, local politician and candidate for the City Parliament Ksenia Cherepanova had her home searched. She was taken from her flat by law enforcement in an unknown direction. Cherepanova headed the local Golos department in the past, however she is currently not connected to the movement in any way. In September 2021, she was declared a “foreign agent” for her cooperation with Golos.

The co-chair of Golos Stanislav Andreychuk told TV Rain that mass searches are connected to the work of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO). The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office declared ENEMO an “undesirable” organisation on 27 September 2021. Shortly after, Golos suspended its involvement in the organisation.

In September 2022, the Golos coordinator in the Russian city of Kirov Denis Shadrin had an administrative case opened against him for “participating in the work of an ‘undesirable’ organisation” because he had observed the mayor elections in Georgia’s Tbilisi. Law enforcement said that Shadrin had cooperated with ENEMO through Golos.

In 2021, Golos was declared a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities. Golos is a Russian organisation, independent of the government, the mission of which is public observation of elections. According to the movement’s website, “Golos trains observers, supports the work of the federal hotline and online services, provides voters with legal assistance, participates in the improvement of the electoral system, and conducts short-term and long-term observation of elections.”

Under Russian law, “undesirable” organisations are foreign or international non-governmental organisations that pose a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the country’s defence capability, and national security.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.