Campaign diary

Navalny volunteer searches for Putin’s headquarters

Screenshot (3888)

Ivan Konovalov talks to Putin volunteers in a shopping centre

by Sarah Hurst

Vladimir Putin visited his campaign headquarters in Moscow today, but it doesn’t get many other visitors, according to Navalny campaign volunteer Ivan Konovalov, who embarked on a quest to give his signature in support of Putin. Konovalov made a video showing how he walked around Moscow in the snow for two days looking for Putin’s campaign headquarters and his election manifesto. As an independent candidate Putin is required to collect 300,000 signatures in his own support.

After failing to find the address of the headquarters on the internet, Konovalov tried talking to Putin volunteers at election stands in shopping centres. They didn’t have any copies of Putin’s manifesto or know anything about his policies, and most didn’t know where the headquarters were. Finally someone gave Konovalov a suggested address and he arrived at the president’s almost-empty campaign offices.

Too busy

The volunteers at the headquarters didn’t have a copy of the manifesto either, explaining that the campaign hadn’t really got going yet. They asked Konovalov to wait 10 minutes for someone called Vladislav Pavlovich, who would answer his questions. An hour later Vladislav Pavlovich turned out to be too busy to meet Konovalov, but the volunteers promised to take his number and get back to him.

“Of course, Vladimir Vladimirovich, you’re so far-sighted! I was so blind!” Konovalov joked afterwards. “Trump and Navalny won’t steal your plan to revive Russia if it doesn’t exist! They won’t be able to put a spoke in the wheel of your campaign if you don’t run one! But let’s be honest. We can’t even call this an election. I refuse to participate in this. I choose a voters’ strike,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, giving a press conference in the presence of Russia’s top media editors, Putin once again refused to say Navalny’s name, but in response to a question about him said, “That personality you mentioned wasn’t the only one not allowed [into the election].” He added that the United States had made a blunder by insisting on Navalny’s participation, and “it would have been better if they had remained silent.”

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