Campaign diary

Putin takes aim at Navalny’s donations

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Alexei Navalny comparing his campaign and Putin’s in his video today

by Sarah Hurst

Transparency is one of the big differences between Alexei Navalny’s election campaign and Vladimir Putin’s, Navalny said on a video today, titled “Navalny vs. Putin: The Difference is the Money.” At the beginning of January Putin already claimed to have the maximum allowable amount of funds in his campaign account, 400 million roubles. He only had two unnamed individual donors, who gave 30,000 roubles and 934 roubles. The rest of the money came from United Russia and “22 strange, murky foundations,” Navalny said.

By comparison, in the 13 months of his own campaign Navalny received 275 million roubles in donations from 145,500 individuals, he said. “Sorry, but that’s 72,000 times more than Putin’s [donors],” Navalny added. Now, however, Russia’s Justice Ministry has opened an investigation into the entity that Navalny set up to manage the donations.

Detailed accounting

Navalny’s campaign has published a detailed report of its spending, which included having to replace equipment and printed materials that police confiscated. Expenses included 8 million roubles on wages, 35 million on renting offices, 29 million on printed materials and 26 million on taxes.

Putin is obviously getting funds from government departments and state-owned utility companies, “but I very much doubt that you gave permission to support Putin’s election campaign with your electricity payment,” Navalny said. “And in a normal system a candidate like Putin couldn’t withstand the competition, because he can’t give a real answer to the question of where he got the money for his election campaign. The fact that I can answer the question is one of the main reasons why I wasn’t allowed into the election,” he continued.

They are afraid

Navalny showed a clip of the head of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission Ella Pamfilova accusing him of illegally collecting donations on December 25 last year, when she refused to accept his nomination as a presidential candidate. “They were terribly afraid of our election campaign, and now they are terribly afraid of our voters’ strike,” Navalny said.

The group investigating Navalny’s donations includes the Justice Ministry, the electoral commission, the FSB, the Interior Ministry and other agencies. “Wow!” Navalny said. “I think that if ISIS created a foundation called the Organisation for Explosions, Terrorist Attacks and Rap Battles, fewer officials would investigate it than are investigating us.” Nevertheless, Navalny said he will continue collecting donations to support the nationwide voters’ strike and rally against the election on January 28.

Meanwhile, Russian media reported that Putin’s alleged number of signatures has increased to 1.4 million today, up from a million yesterday, and that Putin would not participate in election debates.

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