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Russia’s Election Commission says AP misquoted its chief, distorted facts in Moscow election story

Russia’s Election Commission says AP misquoted its chief, distorted facts in Moscow election story
The Associated Press distorted key facts and cherry-picked quotes by the head of Russia’s Election Commission when writing a misleading story on the contentious Moscow city council election, the government body says.

The Central Election Commission of Russia (CEC) has lashed out at AP’s Moscow bureau over the use of their videotaped interview with Ella Pamfilova, a veteran politician who has headed the entity since 2016. The US news agency asked for a sit-down to hear her take on why a dozen independent candidates were disqualified from running for Moscow city council,  the move that spurred a wave of protests in the capital.

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Pamfilova, who gained fame in the 2000s as a human rights advocate and ombudsman, readily agreed to speak with the outlet, but her lengthy, one-hour interview never appeared on AP’s website.

The agency published a wordy feature with three direct quotes and other converted into indirect speech. The CEC said its some of the chief's words were pulled out of context and their initial meaning changed as they were sandwiched between the media outlet’s own judgments on Russian politics.

RT

In one example, when addressing why candidates were disqualified, the article stated that “the violations included minor clerical mistakes or erroneous personal data that was entered by election officials.” But the commission repeatedly said that these clerical mistakes were corrected to benefit the candidates, and much more serious violations, like failing to report properties overseas and presenting signatures of deceased voters, were the main reasons behind the disqualifications.

The commission reached out to AP with these issues and the agency admitted that the initial article “lacked some details” about why the candidates were excluded and added this correction to the story.

However, these “insignificant changes” didn’t make any difference, as the article is still reminiscent of “a propaganda piece which largely neglected reasoned replies by Pamfilova,” the CEC stated. It is planning to raise the matter with a local non-governmental media watchdog to find out if AP breached journalism ethics and Russian law.

Moscow city council elections are set for September, 8 and will see candidates compete for 45 seats in the legislature.

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