The allies of Alexei Navalny won symbolic victories on Sunday in at least one Siberian city visited by the Kremlin’s main opponents during the campaign for the Russian regional election before his hospital stay for suspected poisoning.
Russian opposition ally Alexei Navalny, a victim of suspected poisoning, won symbolic victories in at least one Siberian city on Sunday, September 13, claiming another in another city in the regional election, marked by independent observers by a series of irregularities.
In 41 of the 85 Russian regions, voters were called upon to elect governors, regional or municipal assemblies and four deputies to the national parliament.
In the Siberian city of Tomsk, the opposition won two seats in the city council, one for Ksenia Fadeeva, a 28-year-old candidate and head of the local campaign office for Alexey Navalny’s organization. A victory in Tomsk is symbolic of the opposition, because it is in this city that Alexei Navalny was poisoned, according to his allies.
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The official results are not yet all known and are expected on Monday.
In Novosibirsk, the country’s third largest city, Alexey Navalny’s team claimed victory for Sergei Boyko, at the head of a coalition vying for the city council election, which challenged the Kremlin party with the support of the organization of Russia’s main opponent.
“Sergei Boiko in Novosibirsk won it!”, Alexei Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmych said on Twitter.
Mobile and outdoor premises
In a difficult economic and social context, accusations of corruption and an unpopular pension reform, the popularity of Vladimir Putin’s party has eroded one year since the legislative election. United Russia is still expected to win the overwhelming majority of the seats at stake.
The poll has been taking place since Friday, for three days, especially in mobile and outdoor areas, officially to limit the risks associated with the coronavirus, which during the summer constitutional referendum authorized Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036.
For the opposition, these methods make the work of observers very difficult and encourage fraud. For the chair of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, these accusations are “not sufficiently objective and harmful”.
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The specialized non-governmental organization Golos has condemned the “arbitrariness” of officials at many polling stations who in particular refuse to register complaints from observers. She reported 1,570 violations reported to her, including “voting.”
In Novosibirsk, Sergei Boiko assured AFP on Sunday that he had noted “a large number of crimes”, noting, for example, that “the safe containing the ballot papers” was “broken” during the first two days of the vote.
“People have a growing demand for change. They do not want to see the same people in power that they have long lost confidence in,” Alexander Sourov, a 20-year-old activist from the team, told AFP. ‘Alexey Navalny in Novosibirsk.
Damir Adgamov, a 26-year-old voter, said he voted for the opposition after seeing Alexei Navalny’s polls condemning the corruption of political elites: “Maybe new ideas can change things.”
The “smart vote” strategy
These elections were an opportunity for Alexey Navalny’s organization to test the effectiveness of its “smart vote” tactics, which consist of demanding a vote for the candidate best suited to lose that power.
The method had been proven in the summer of 2019 in Moscow, during the local elections, where the government lost many seats.
The ghost of the Navalny affair hangs over the countryside. According to his supporters and his German doctor, he was poisoned at the end of August with a military nerve agent. He was then in Siberia to support his candidates and complete investigations into the corruption of local elites. The 44-year-old opponent, hospital in Berlin, came out of a coma on Monday.
The West urged the Russian authorities to declare themselves and bring those responsible to justice for sanctions. The Kremlin rejected the poisoning version and condemned unfounded accusations.
To this is added the road traced by the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East. Elections are not planned there, but for two months Moscow has been unable to suppress important demonstrations there condemning the arrest of the regional governor previously elected against a Kremlin favorite.
Apart from the United Russia and the traditional Communist Party and the LDPR (nationalists), four other parties participated in the election on Sunday, formed with the help of the government according to the opposition, to divide the protest voters.