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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Update: July 28, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Opposition Activists Stage Hunger Strike at Novosibirsk Elections Commission After Rejection of Signatures for the Ballot

The Novosibirsk Region Elections Commission has rejected the opposition party Parnas from taking part in local elections by questioning hundreds of its signatures to get on the ballot, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Leonid Volkov, a leader of the party, attempted to plead their case in a meeting at the regional elections commission, but nevertheless the commission voted to exclude his party from the list of candidates accepted.

As a gesture of protest, Volkov refused to leave the office of commission head Petukhov. He and two candidates, Yegor Savin and Sergei Boiko, announced a hunger strike in protest and staged a sit-in.

Soon police arrived to escort them out of the building and charge them with disturbing the peace.

Translation: We're on our way from the police station to the court with great pomp (why were 18 police officers taken away from their work?)

Boiko was fined 500 rubles ($8.3) and Savin was fined 800 ($13.3) rubles. Volkov's hearing was postponed. Two others were also fined: a candidate, Kirill Levchenko was fined 1000 ($16.6) rubles and a lawyer, Vladlen Los, was fined 500 rubles.

Volkov said in a blog post he would continue the hunger strike along with Savin and Boiko to demand the right of these candidates to take part in elections.

Volkov served as the campaign manager for Aleksey Navalny when he ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013 and attracted about 30% of the vote.

A coalition of democratic parties collected more than 17,000 signatures in Novosibirsk, then carefully selected 11,682 of them so that no reason for objections could be found. They turned over to police about 20 signature-gatherers who had showed up during their supporters' drive to deliberately falsify signatures in order to get them discredited.

The elections commissioner picked on a number of minor issues, for example, if a signature strayed into the margins of the page, it was disqualified. In this way, 1,495 names were found "in violation" which then meant Parnas didn't have enough to clear the threshold.

The opposition's strategy in recent months has been to hold "primaries" in various provincial towns to help elect the opposition candidate to run against the ruling party, United Russia, and other pro-Kremlin parties. Activists have attempted to hold a number of public rallies, in some cities they have been cancelled or if allowed to go forward, hecklers have been sent to disrupt them. Earlier in Novosibirsk, one opposition campaigner was beaten by unknown assailants.

Recently RPR Parnas, originally a coalition, attempted to change its name to Popular Alliance to be less cumbersome. Yet a pro-government party also applied to change its name to the same one in order to dislodge the opposition.

Last week, Aleksey Navalny published a blog criticizing Igor Shuvalov, first deputy prime minister, for owning an apartment in London that was well beyond his salary. The picture of the flat in Westminster was widely re-posted.
Translation: Navalany: Russian Vice Premier Shuvalov owns an elite apartment in the center of London for £11,5 million
Translation: But for the sake of Putin, people are willing to tighten their belts, Shuvalov believes...

Next followed rumors that the Kremlin had given orders to the state media not to mention Navalny in the press. But presidential administration spokesman Dmitry Peskov then denied there was any such order.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick