Campaign diary

Cheboksary city official illegally collects signatures for Putin

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One of the “volunteers” collecting signatures for Vladimir Putin in Cheboksary

by Sarah Hurst

Volunteers at Alexei Navalny’s campaign headquarters in Cheboksary have filed an application to hold a rally on January 28 calling for a boycott of the presidential election. As local campaign coordinator Semyon Kochkin explained in a video published today, the election is merely Putin’s “re-appointment”, since he isn’t making any pretence of holding a fair vote.

Kochkin showed a clip of his colleague Yuri Sidorov from the Navalny campaign talking to a young man and woman who were collecting signatures for Vladimir Putin at a stand in a shopping centre. The “volunteers” admitted that they were working for the Cheboksary municipal administration, and the woman tried to make a call to Stanislav Trofimov, the head of the city’s youth department. Kochkin showed an ad on social media where Trofimov asked for people to work for 400 roubles for four hours (about $2 an hour), despite the fact that it is illegal for government employees to collect signatures for a political candidate.

Today Russian media announced that Putin already has over a million signatures in his support – up from 700,000 yesterday. It is doubtful whether he really has anything like this number of signatures. But who will check? “Elections in which there is no one to vote for have no right to exist,” Kochkin concluded, calling on people to participate in the rally.

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