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LGBT activists protest against amendments to the constitution in Moscow in July 2020. The placard says, "I don't recognize the authority that keeps me from having a family."

An organization that provides legal and counseling assistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia's Far East has been listed as a "foreign agent."

The nonprofit organization Mayak, which says it has been operating in Russia since 2016, was added to the Justice Ministry's list of "unregistered public associations performing the functions of a foreign agent" on December 17.

Mayak is part of the Russian LGBT Network, Russia's largest gay and lesbian support group, which was branded a "foreign agent" on a separate list on November 8.

Russia maintains multiple lists of individuals and entities it considers to be working as "foreign agents," a label that is handed down in keeping with Russia's so-called "foreign agent" legislation adopted in 2012.

Among other things the designation requires nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign assistance and which are considered by the government to be engaged in political activities to register as "foreign agents," to identify themselves as such, and to submit to audits.

RFE/RL and a number of its services are among 103 individuals and entities listed as "foreign mass media performing the functions of a foreign agent."

Mayak joins the election-monitoring NGO Golos as the only entities on the "unregistered public associations" list.

Mayak is headed by Regina Dzugkoyeva, who also heads the NGO Lilit.

Lilit, which implements social and legal programs in the Far East, was also designated a "foreign agent" on December 17.

Members of a local election commission count votes as part of Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections in the village of Gornaya Mayevka, outside Bishkek, on November 28.

BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz Supreme Court has refused to review a major electoral fraud claim by a monitoring group, saying an official deadline to file complaints about the November 28 parliamentary election process has expired.

The court’s announcement came on December 17, just hours before the final election results were about to be announced.

Bishkek-based Kloop Media claimed that nearly half of the voting protocols issued after the vote count in polling stations across the country significantly differ from the protocols published on the Central Election Commission (BShK) website.

The difference in the numbers ultimately affects the final results of the elections, the Bishkek-based group said.

Kloop Media accused election authorities of “rewriting” the protocols.

A voting protocol is issued after the vote count in each polling station, and it shows the number of votes each party or candidate garners in that polling station. It also indicates how many ballots were deemed invalid.

The BShK website publishes the protocols it receives from every single polling station.

Kloop Media deployed some 1,400 observers in polling stations across the country during the elections to monitor the voting process and ballot counts. The group said the observers obtained copies of protocols from each site they monitored.

'Major Discrepancies'

Kloop said it found major discrepancies when it compared the original documents with protocols on the BShK website.

“In some polling stations, the number of votes cast for parties has almost doubled,” it said. “In some places the discrepancies reach dozens and even hundreds of votes.”

“A voting protocol is an official document. Any decision to change the protocol [reflecting a recount] must be published on the BShK website, but that wasn’t the case here,” Aizirek Almazbekova, the coordinator for Kloop's election-monitoring project, told RFE/RL.

Kloop Media didn’t say which parties benefited from the alleged fraud but, according to the preliminary results issued by BShK on December 7, six parties were set to enter the unicameral parliament, the Jogorku Kenesh.

Voting Machine Malfunctions, Record Low Turnout In Kyrgyz Parliamentary Elections
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Among them are three pro-government parties: Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) Kyrgyzstan, Yntymak (Harmony), and Ishenim (Trust).

Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan, Alyans (Alliance), and Yiman Nuru (Ray of Faith) also passed the 5 percent threshold to win seats in the 90-seat legislature.

Butun Kyrgyzstan has been in the opposition, while the other two parties aren't really affiliated with the government or the opposition. But Alyans on December 6 announced it would side with the opposition.

Four opposition parties that failed to pass the threshold -- Ata-Meken (Homeland), Azattyk (Liberty), the Social Democrats, and Uluttar Birimdigi (Union of Ethnicities) -- have accused the election authorities of fraud and demanded a new vote.

Too Late To Complain?

Kloop Media said it had first approached the BShK to seek an explanation for the alleged discrepancies but there was no response from the election body.

It then filed a complaint with the Bishkek Administrative Court over “inaction” by the election authorities. The court, however, refused to review the matter, saying on December 13 that a deadline for filing complaints about the elections had expired.

BShK member Uzarbek Zhylkybaev told RFE/RL that the election body is still reviewing complaints which were sent before the deadline passed.

Uzarbek Zhylkybaev (file photo)
Uzarbek Zhylkybaev (file photo)

“All appeals are being considered and recounts were carried out when the parties asked for it,” he said. “There are also rules for filing a complaint. Everyone has to act within the law.”

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s announcement on December 17, a Kloop Media representative said the group hasn’t yet decided about its next step.

About 1,300 candidates from 21 political parties competed for Jogorku Kenesh seats in the elections, with 54 being selected by party list and the remaining 36 in single-mandate districts.

Unlike other countries in Central Asia, which are led by authoritarian governments, election outcomes are unpredictable in democratic Kyrgyzstan. Protest rallies have sparked government upheaval in Kyrgyzstan three times in the past two decades.

Mostly recently, a disputed parliamentary vote in October 2020 swept current President Sadyr Japarov to power after he was sprung from prison.

Written by Farangis Najibullah with reporting by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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