On Sunday, a rally was held in Moscow in support of independent candidates in the elections to the Moscow City Duma - oppositionists were rejected signature lists (candidates had to collect about 5 thousand signatures in their support), which means their automatic elimination from the electoral race. The action, announced as a meeting of municipal deputies with voters, began in the Novopushkinsky park, continued with a march to the mayor's office, and from there to the Moscow city hall. It ended with a harsh dispersal of the protesters, 39 people were detained, including opposition candidates: Ilya Yashin, Lyubov Sobol (she went on a hunger strike in protest the day before), Yulia Galyamina and Ivan Zhdanov. Two detainees - Yulia Galyamina and Aleksey Minyaylo - spent the night in the police. Four more detainees were taken away from the police in an ambulance.
The upcoming September elections to the Moscow City Duma are largely associated with women. In addition to Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer from the Anti-Corruption Foundation, who has already become the face of this protest, there are many other notable female names among the opposition candidates - for example, Yulia Galyamina, a teacher at the Higher School of Economics, and Elena Rusakova, a deputy of the Gagarinsky district of Moscow. We have collected the main incidents and obstacles faced by independent candidates - they once again demonstrate that it is not only difficult for both women and men to engage in politics in Russia, but also dangerous.
We have already written that the head of the Palliative Care Center Nyuta Federmesser was supposed to go to the polls in the same constituency with Lyubov Sobol - many considered her nomination "negotiable": in the mayor's office and the Kremlin they tried to dilute the votes of opposition candidates by putting up "liberal" competitors Ilya Yashin's candidate, HSE Vice-Rector Valeria Kasamara went to the polls). However, Nyuta Federmesser suddenly pulled out of the race, citing the fact that she was not ready for the torrent of "lies and dirt" addressed to her.
Power in this election has gone further than just putting forward spoilers. In some districts, spoilers appeared, "namesake", which also turned out to be similar in appearance to the candidates. Yulia Galyamina, for example, spoke about the candidate Anna Ganyalina - in the photograph on the leaflet she is depicted in a white blouse and a red jacket (like the original Galyamina), with a similar hairstyle, only without glasses.
Municipal deputy Aleksandra Andreeva faced a similar situation: almost the full namesake of the candidate was nominated for the elections in the same district, they are distinguished only by their patronymic. “This is not me, as you might think. This is a spoiler handpicked by the mayor's office. She has the same oval face as me, glasses similar to mine were selected for her, her lips were painted under mine. If you look at her hair, it is the same as mine. It is impossible to do it with any tricks - this is Photoshop,”Andreeva told Rain. Moreover, Alexandra said that her competitor received her current surname recently - a few months ago she married Andreev.
Harassment and threats
Lyubov Sobol repeatedly spoke about the persecution even before the start of the election race. According to her, for several months unknown young people continuously followed her, filming her and trying to provoke - such surveillance has long been established for Alexei Navalny. Both Sobol and Navalny linked this to the investigation of businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin (he is considered a good friend of President Vladimir Putin).
In mid-June, after the start of the election campaign, Sobol said that two unknown persons followed her husband - without cameras, but studying all his movements during the day.This is not the first such situation - in November 2016, Sobol's husband was attacked at the entrance: he was injected with a drug in his leg, from which he lost consciousness. The police have repeatedly refused to open a criminal case on this matter.
In addition, Lyubov Sobol spoke about the information attack on her and her family in the media, which she again associates with Prigozhin. In early July, unknown persons tried to hack into the Telegram accounts of Sobol and the coordinator of the signature collectors for her nomination.
Compromising evidence on this campaign was also collected on one of the key candidates in the race, Ilya Yashin. Back in the spring, the politician was accused of sending his grandmother to a nursing home - "a prison for the elderly," and then a video appeared where a man named Yashin kicks a cat. In the summer, the candidate said that they were trying to blame him for a road accident (and released a video refutation).
At the end of June, several collection points for Lyubov Sobol's signatures in the Presnensky district of Moscow were doused with feces. According to one of the collectors, the attackers were wearing masks, and before pouring feces on the structure, one of them shouted: "You are against United Russia!" Sobol says that this was far from the first attack on collection points (before that, provocateurs had already tore up subscription lists and poured cola over them), and she had to hire a private security company to guard the pickers.
The candidates, whose signatures were rejected, assure that one of the manipulation tools was the verification of signatures through the Vybory GAS register and the Department of Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which checked whether there were people who left the signature, in principle. Opposition candidates found that the experts who checked the signatures on the databases of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Vybory State Aviation Administration entered the names of the signatories with misprints - for example, deputy candidate Elena Rusakova reported about this. And Lyubov Sobol gave specific surnames: another patronymic of the signed Muscovite was inserted into the FMS certificate - Ekaterina Andreevna Ilyenko-Van Nilen turned out to be Ekaterina Iosifovna. Moscow City Duma candidate Dmitry Gudkov has the most detailed list of typos - he joked that Anastasia Yktorvna Balashova and Filin Vladimirovich Andreevich replaced “Daria Timurovich”, which became a meme back in the 2015 elections.
Errors in dates and rules
Lyubov Sobol also pointed out violations during the verification of signatures - she was carried out in secret from her, although according to the law, the candidate says, she has the right to be present, they must be notified of the verification in advance. “Just pieces of paper, printed on a printer, without explaining the assessment methods, calculations, handwriting samples,” the politician notes. Another candidate, Anastasia Bryukhanova, said that they were looking for errors in the signatures, which had already been rejected by the team of the candidate herself - although, according to the law, they were not subject to verification.
Elena Rusakova said that most of the rejected signatures were declared invalid on grounds that were vaguely expressed in the protocol, including the form, firmware and certification of signature sheets - she was told that she allegedly handed over unstitched sheets to the election commission. “This is strange, because in case of violations under these articles, the sheets are simply not accepted by the district commission,” she wrote. In addition, Rusakova says that the election commission did not issue her documents for verification within the established timeframe - which sharply reduced the time to prove the authenticity of the signatures.
Dmitry Gudkov said that one of the most common reasons for the “rejection” of signatures for him was the claim of handwriting experts to numbers in dates: many of them were allegedly written with one hand. “Try to come up with many different spellings for zero or one. The claims are delusional, obviously,”the politician said. According to him, in this way the signatures of the mother of the candidate for deputy Anastasia Bryukhanova and the FBK project manager Artyom Torchinsky were rejected. Another candidate, Ivan Zhdanov, had the wrong address of the signer in the database - Leninsky Prospect instead of Leningradsky.
Many opposition candidates talked about the "show" - a situation when, in their opinion, signatures for the pro-government candidates were simply "drawn". Lyubov Sobol discovered a whole factory of such fake drawings and talked about them on the Navalny Live YouTube channel. And Dmitry Gudkov noticed how different the stacks of papers in support of independent and pro-government candidates differ - the latter, in his opinion, look more like a fresh stack of paper. However, the experts of the electoral committee have already accused the opposition of the "drawing" (that is, the "painted" forgery). At the same time, signatures were recognized as fake, the authenticity of which was easy to prove. This happened, for example, with the signature of TV presenter Mikhail Shirvindt for Lyubov Sobol - although the moment when he signed the papers is documented (posted a tweet with a photo). Journalist and municipal deputy Ilya Azar also said that his signature for Sobol was recognized as a "show", but after the information became public, the signatures were suddenly declared taken into account.
Photos: Team Sobol / Vkontakte (1, 2), Yulia Galyamina