Image by Evgeniy Isaev
There is a showdown brewing in Moscow over the Russian 2018 presidential election. Opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, barred from running against Vladimir Putin by the election commission over an embezzlement conviction, has called for a boycott of the poll and massive demonstrations across the Russian Federation in protest.
“I assure you, a huge amount of people will not go to this election, would actively boycott this election,” Navalny said Monday, reported USA Today.
“Navalny’s crime qualifies as ‘serious’ and therefore rids the individual of the right to stand for president,” said commission member Boris Ebzeyev.
Navalny today took things a giant step forward by calling for massive demonstrations across Russia in order to reduce the legitimacy of the contest. The protests would take place on Jan 28th in 85 towns and cities across the country.
“The procedure that we’re invited to take part in is not an election,” he said. “Only Putin and the candidates he has handpicked are taking part in it.”
“Going to the polls right now,” he said, “is to vote for lies and corruption,” reported Reuters.
“We refuse to call the reappointment of Putin an election,” Navalny said in a statement on his website.
“We are not going to vote and will convince everyone around us not to vote. We are going to campaign (for a boycott) with all our might.”
The Russian leadership has gone to great lengths to prepare the battleground of the election by limiting serious opposition candidates and controlling the free press. In an ironic twist, the decision to prevent Navalny from running against Vladimir Putin may cause the loss of legitimacy the Kremlin has tried so hard to prevent.
If Navalny moves forward with igniting protests across Russia, the country seems destined for a showdown between the Kremlin and Navalny supporters.