Campaign diary

Navalny to hold voter gatherings in 20 cities

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Alexei Navalny announces that he will hold voter gatherings on December 24

by Sarah Hurst

Alexei Navalny has announced that he will hold 20 voters’ meetings in different cities on December 24 to put him forward as a candidate in the presidential election on March 18. According to Russian law there must be a gathering of at least 500 voters supporting a candidate. Navalny said on a video today that he is ensuring his chances by holding the events in multiple cities. The cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Perm, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Ufa, Izhevsk, Samara, Rostov-on-Don, Saratov, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, Vladivostok, Yaroslavl, Voronezh and Irkutsk.

The date coincides with a “Day of Free Elections” organised by opposition politician and Moscow local legislator Ilya Yashin, who wants to hold his event in Moscow, but has been opposed by authorities. Yashin received a visit from a prosecutor who told him that the event was illegal, despite the fact that legislators have the right to organise celebrations. Yashin has responded by saying he will sue Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Navalny pointed out that he is eligible to participate in the election because according to the Constitution, anyone who is not deemed incompetent and who is not under arrest may run, and no other law can overrule this. Navalny also showed a clip of Vladimir Putin speaking at his annual press conference in December 2013, when Navalny was a candidate in the election for mayor of Moscow. A journalist asked Putin why Navalny was allowed to participate, and Putin replied, “If he presented any threat, we wouldn’t let him into the election.” Navalny sees this as a damning statement explaining Putin’s actions in the current election. At his press conference this year, Putin insisted that he wasn’t afraid of Navalny, but refused to say Navalny’s name, instead calling him “a Russian version of Saakashvili”.

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