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Meeting with the President of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova

During a meeting with the president of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova (by videoconference).

Vladimir Putin had a meeting by videoconference with the president of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Hello, Ms. Pamfilova.

President of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova Pamfilova EllaChairperson of the Central Election Commission: Hello, Mr. President.

Vladimir Poutine: Ms. Pamfilova, we usually meet face-to-face after the election campaigns. The circumstances are a little different now, but not speaking with you right now would not be the right thing to do. It is not only that you have personally done a lot to organize the good work of the central and local polling stations, so that the national vote on the constitutional amendments can effectively take place on July 1, but also a huge army of members of the electoral commission worked alongside you at the central electoral commission and locally.

This year, the situation was special and, of course, I followed the organization of work closely. The organization was up to date, of high level and of very high quality. The people were able to express their position openly on the constitutional amendments, and everything was organized in a very democratic manner and, to my knowledge, with very few violations. In any case, observers and the media say so. It was important to organize the work with the media and observers accordingly. It was a difficult task, indeed. Despite the fact that precautions were taken to guarantee security, social estrangement, etc., the members of the electoral commissions worked in close contact with the population and, in this sense, it could be said that they put their health in danger.

However, the result of the work - I am not talking about political results, but purely technical and epidemiological, if I can use this term in this case - shows that everything went perfectly from the point of view of security. Fortunately, there have been no outbreak-related manifestations among members of electoral commissions, and specialists and doctors say there has been no increase in the number of cases of coronavirus since 1st July, but on the contrary, the decline continues.

Therefore, I would like to thank you, Ms. Pamfilova, and to all of your colleagues whom you represent across the country. I would like to express my gratitude, thank you myself and, of course, on behalf of those who participated in the vote, because you and your colleagues have done a lot to keep them safe.

As far as the guarantee of democratic procedures is concerned, everything has also been done at the highest level, and I would also like to thank you. Thank you so much.

President of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for your continued support. If you allow me, I would like to say a few words about our opinion. The vote took place under the highest possible health and epidemiological conditions for the population. Everyone helped us and every possible measure was taken, including the provision of personal protection items to voters. Everything has been done so that people can vote without any risk to their health.

In addition, the vote was accessible to all. In other words, people could choose the method that worked best for them, including the time, place and form of the vote. It was an unprecedented experience.

Generally speaking, I would like to say that the vote itself was absolutely free, open and transparent. We can say that this national vote has become the quintessence of direct democracy. I insist that it be so, and I let anyone try to question it. We have created the conditions for the people to express their will directly on the basic law of Russia. Why do I insist that it was the epitome of direct democracy? Because our electoral commissions were a representative sample of society. Almost 900,000 people worked on the commissions at different levels. They represented more than 40 political parties and a large number of public movements.

In other words, those who were responsible for organizing the vote were themselves a large cross-section of society. In addition, 526,000 observers worked during these seven days to monitor all forms of voting. We had observers from 18 political parties and 1,600 public movements and NGOs, who also represent a cross section of society. This is why I say that it was the epitome of direct democracy, when the people were able to express their will without any intermediary. I think that only very strange people could protest against this voting system.

The vote was unprecedented in its openness and transparency with 11,000 journalists representing 2,500 different media, including leading international publications. Let me give you an example. I don't know if there are countries where they could operate so freely. They could go anywhere and make observations at a polling station of their choice and cover the developments.

Take Reuters, for example. They observed the procedure at a station in the Moscow region for seven consecutive days. Our journalists working abroad and Reuters himself can only dream of this. In the UK, for example, the presence of the media at polling stations is illegal. In the United States, to get a permit, you have to go directly to the commission, which almost always says no. With us, it was free and open, and we didn't hide anything.

What made it unprecedented in its openness and transparency? Video surveillance has been implemented in 81 regions. No country practices video surveillance as broad as we do in this country. Anyone can see the turnout and online voting results. I do not know if complaints can be made here. As a result, we have an unprecedented number of violations, 33 in all. We identified them and prevented them in good time.

We received more than 600,000 calls to our hotline and our information centers. Most of the time, callers wanted to know what types of voting were available, with remote electronic voting being available in two regions. We selected 120 complaints before the vote, which we believed to be possible violations, and sent them to governors and law enforcement.

This result, Mr. President, makes us proud. I thank my colleagues for this unprecedented effort. The campaign was quite difficult. Thank you for your evaluation of our work. I think we have faced the task.

Vladimir Putin: Ms. Pamfilova, it is now time to prepare for September, the national elections in September.

Ella Pamfilova: Our preparations are in full swing.

We have many, almost 8,700 different campaigns at different levels. Elections will take place in 83 regions. All the necessary measures have already been taken.

Mr. President, after the national vote, the sociological services carried out surveys. Respondents told them that they very much appreciate the procedures we have proposed to them. We are now thinking about the outcome. Although everything has gotten much better, the epidemiological situation varies by region. Of course, seven days are not realistic, but it is possible to consider holding elections over two or three days rather than one to guarantee security. We will discuss other measures that could be taken to provide total security in the current situation and to give people additional opportunities to vote. As for the other questions, we are working on it.

Vladimir Poutine: Ms. Pamfilova, do you need help, support in your preparations for the September election campaigns?

Ella Pamfilova: For the moment, everything is fine. We have very good relations with the government and all the agencies, including Rospotrebnadzor. As a last resort, if we need something, I will call you because I have a direct line with you.

Vladimir Putin: Okay, Ms. Pamfilova. We will stay in touch. Once again, I would like to thank you and all of your colleagues for organizing the national vote on July 1 this year.

Thank you very much.

Ella Pamfilova: Thank you.


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