Campaign diary

Navalny repeats call for mass rallies on Sunday

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In Kaliningrad the venue for Navalny’s campaign rally changed at the last minute and he led supporters through the city. One of the scenes shown in his video today.

by Sarah Hurst

Alexei Navalny has called on people to protest against the election in rallies across the country this Sunday, in a video published today called “First Step to Victory”. He showed images of mass protests against corruption all over the world, including in France, South Korea and Hong Kong, and told viewers that their actions can make a difference in Russia if enough people come out onto the streets as they do everywhere else.

Navalny announced his planned day of protest a month ago and since then police have raided many of his regional campaign offices, detaining his employees and volunteers and confiscating leaflets about the voters’ strike, computers and other equipment. A court has also ordered the closure of his foundation that manages campaign donations, and banks have frozen the foundation’s accounts.

The person Putin is most scared of

This week Navalny has been Strasbourg appearing at the European Court of Human Rights in an appeal by the Russian government against an award of 63,000 euros for some of his arrests. Navalny told the court that the chances of his case not being political were the same as “the chances of meeting a dinosaur in this building, or Putin losing the election in March.” His lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said that Navalny is the person Putin is most scared of.

This certainly seems to be the case, judging by the efforts Putin has made to stop Navalny and his supporters, while at the same time insisting that nobody is interested in Navalny (while refusing to say his actual name). Putin has little to offer voters, and when asked by a worker in Ufa recently whether he would bring back awards for factories, he replied, “How about I just kiss you?”

In St. Petersburg amused residents made a video of a man painting the word “LIAR!” in huge letters on one of Putin’s election billboards. Meanwhile, Russian authorities have withdrawn the licence for the British comedy “The Death of Stalin”, calling it insulting to the Soviet past. But it seems what Putin is most concerned about is that it ridicules a repressive leader, and might start to give people ideas.

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