Polls open for parliamentary elections in Russia on Sunday.
However, on Saturday – the ‘day of silence’ when no campaigning is allowed – the spotlight shifted to a group monitoring the ballot.
Golos, which translates to ‘voice’ or ‘vote’ in English, is accusing Russian authorities of harassment after its leader was detained at an airport and allegedly had her laptop’s contents copied as she returned from a trip abroad.
Speaking at a press conference organised by Golos, the group’s leader Liliya Shibanova said:
“During 12 hours of constantly fighting for my rights, I was there with a person who deals with police – cases of torture by the police, she is a human rights activist who knows the law well – and both of us together could not overcome this situation. The customs officers just didn’t follow the legal procedures.”
Customs confirm seizing the laptop, but deny targetting the group, saying the search was normal procedure.
Some in Russia accuse the foreign-funded Golos of being an international tool for meddling in the election.