Campaign diary

Police battle observers as sham election starts

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Alexei Navalny’s observers in Chechnya. Photo: @Grozny_2018

by Sarah Hurst

Russia declared its polls open in Kamchatka and Chukotka this evening, with an official promising “I’m sure there are no violations,” while at the same time police surrounded Alexei Navalny’s campaign headquarters in St. Petersburg and detained supporters of Navalny all over the country. Navalny has deployed thousands of volunteers to monitor the obviously rigged vote, and Vladimir Putin is uncomfortable with such scrutiny. Earlier today a court ordered 99 pages on the social network VKontakte that were calling for an election boycott to be blocked.

A group of Navalny volunteers has travelled to Chechnya to observe the election there, and the Yabloko party has issued a statement warning that they will be in danger and complaining that they obtained Yabloko accreditation under false pretences. Navalny himself tweeted that he had expected problems with Yabloko and that he had “insured” the observers by registering them with the Central Electoral Commission, which would have to answer for their safety.

St. Petersburg legislator jailed

It wasn’t only Navalny supporters who had problems today: liberal St. Petersburg city representative Daniil Ken was confronted while bringing documents to his local electoral commission, shoved, and then accused of starting a fight. He was immediately bundled into a police car and driven off with flashing lights and a siren, then taken to court and sentenced to 12 days in prison for “minor hooliganism”.

In Moscow activist Gennady Pirogov was sent for forced psychiatric treatment for picketing with a sign that said “Make Putin emperor!” According to OVD-Info, police thought he had schizophrenia and megalomania because he was wearing a tsar’s costume while picketing.

At this point it seems he is one of the few sane people left in Russia.

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