Campaign diary

Navalny calls for a protest on December 24


Demonstration against fraudulent Duma elections in Moscow on December 24, 2011

by Sarah Hurst

Alexei Navalny has called on his blog for a demonstration in support of free elections in Moscow on December 24, the anniversary of a huge protest that took place in 2011 after fraudulent Duma elections. Navalny is endorsing an event organised by Ilya Yashin, a friend of the late Boris Nemtsov and prominent opposition activist who is now a local legislator in Moscow. Thanks to his position he has the legal right to organise “celebrations”, as Yashin is characterising his event.

“Very soon the presidential race in Russia will start,” Yashin wrote on Facebook. “For the first time in a long time we have the chance to see a genuinely competitive campaign – on condition, of course, that all the main candidates are allowed into the election.”

No permission from swindlers needed

Russia’s Central Electoral Commission has complained that people aren’t aware enough about elections, so Yashin decided to help them, he said. “On December 24 our council of deputies will organise a ‘Day of Free Elections’ festive event on Lermontov Square. We will tell people about their electoral rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution. We will organise registration of people who are prepared to work as monitors. We will put up a stage, invite musicians, and give out souvenirs dedicated to free elections,” Yashin wrote. The event will be beautiful and also socially useful, he concluded.

Local legislators “don’t need any permission from the swindlers in the Moscow mayor’s office,” Navalny commented. He posted a picture of the tens of thousands of people who demonstrated in 2011. Those protests culminated on May 6, 2012, the day before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for an illegal third term, when hundreds of people were violently arrested in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square while peacefully demonstrating. Many served prison sentences of two to three years. Some were arrested years later and are still in prison. Putin’s crackdown was tough enough to suppress most opposition, especially after his annexation of Crimea and the murder of Boris Nemtsov in February 2015. But now people are beginning to return to the streets in significant numbers.

Once again, it’s Putin’s move.

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