Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow to protest the ban on opposition candidates participating in the upcoming Moscow election. Yabloko founder Grigory Yavlinsky has described these latest events as signaling “the end of Russia’s 30-year experiment with elections”.
The election for the Moscow City Duma will be held on Sunday 8 September, but last week, Moscow’s electoral commissions disqualified opposition candidates on questionable pretexts from the ballot including candidates from Yabloko, an ALDE Party member party.
Eight candidates from the Yabloko party managed to collect voters’ signatures in favour of their nomination, however five out of eight candidates have been denied their registration. These are: Sergei Mitrokhin, member of the Federal Political Committee of the Yabloko party (district No 43), Andrei Babushkin, member of the Presidential Human Rights Council (district No 11), Yelena Rusakova, head of the municipal council of Gagarinsky district of Moscow (district No 37), Kirill Goncharov, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper “We Are Muscovites” (district No 32) and Anastasia Bryukhanova, municipal deputy (district No 42).
Three candidates received their registration: Yevgeny Bunimovich (district No 6), Moscow Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, Maxim Kruglov, expert of Yabloko Anti-Corruption Policy Centre (district No 14) and Daria Besedina, architect (district No 8).
Speaking at a meeting of unregistered candidates to the Moscow Parliament, Mr Mitrokhin said: “the system of collecting voters’ signatures represents a filter created in order to prevent undesirable candidates from being represented in the bodies of representative and legislative power”.
He believes that another check of the rejected subscription lists by the employees of the Moscow Electoral Committee and the Central Electoral Commission will not restore confidence in the procedure, which was completely “discredited and delegitimised”.
“Any attempt of checking the signatures (once again) will be an imitation, and no one will believe it,” he said. For him, the only way out of this situation, is to register all candidates who have collected the required number of voters’ signatures. “Register all of us and let us compete with each other in fair elections, which I hope will take place. This is how the deputies of the new Moscow City Duma will emerge.”
On 17 July, Yabloko appealed to the Moscow City Electoral Committee against the refusal to register all of its candidates. Later all the five candidates also filed their complaints there. The Party also wrote an open letter to the Central Electoral Commission.
On Saturday 27 June a mass-scale peaceful action took place near the Mayor’s office in the centre of Moscow demanding that opposition candidates are registered. The National Guard turned violent against the protesters and more than 1300 people were arrested, the largest since the protests of 2011.
Grigory Yavlinsky, who participated in the action said, “I express the opinion of a huge number of people against applying repressive measures such as searches, arrests and detentions, as well as against falsification of signatures on behalf of those checking the signatures and protest against such suppression of citizens. All this together is unprecedented suppression of citizens even for Russia”.¡
Elsewhere in Russia, representatives of the Yabloko party will take part in 14 election campaigns of different levels in 13 regions of the Russian Federation. Nikolai Rybakov, Deputy Chairman of Yabloko and head of Yabloko’s election headquarters, notes that the party actively participates in the elections, despite the fact that the system is designed kin such a way so that to prevent democratic candidates on the ballot.