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Hon. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
June 23, 2011


WASHINGTON–Today, U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) made the following statement regarding the Russian Ministry of Justice’s Refusal to Register the Party of People’s Freedom:

“The refusal of Russian authorities to register the People’s Freedom Party yesterday was an early and serious indication that December’s parliamentary elections may not be free and fair.  We’ve heard the recent rhetoric about the importance of authentic competition, but this decision appeared to contradict the government’s commitment to a real contest.  I welcome today’s reports that this decision may be reconsidered and urge the Government of Russia to recommit itself to the cause of freedom and democracy.  As a member of numerous prestigious international organizations, including the OSCE, Russia has freely undertaken binding obligations concerning elections.  These obligations do not begin and end on Election Day, but include a full range of issues from ensuring ballot access to a campaign environment where candidates and voters are free to exercise the fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.  Russian TV – the only media reaching the vast majority of potential voters – also must reflect more than the opinions of those in power.  Otherwise citizens are denied their rightful participation in the reality and future of their own country.”


Media Contact: Shelly Han
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Chairman Chris Smith speaks at the Commission hearing on Northern Ireland. (March 2015)