Russia blocks the only anti-war candidate from running against Putin

The Bell

Russia's Central Election Commission has finally blocked Boris Nadezhdin — the only anti-war campaigner to make it this far — from registering as a candidate in next month's presidential election.

  • Nadezhdin's campaign submitted 105,000 signatures in  support of his candidacy, giving them a possible 5% margin for error once the election commission had scrubbed any flawed and invalid names. Predictably, the commission found many more errors — 15% of the 60,000 it said it checked were deemed invalid. According to the commission, 11 signatures were from dead people — a fact that was much talked about in the run-up to the decision.
  • Nadezhdin himself published examples of some signatures the commission said were invalid that included errors as a result of the digitization of the names, which are submitted in hand-written form. For example, the printed lists contained signatures from people whose home city was listed as “Rostov-na-Domu” (one letter away from the actual city of Rostov-na-Donu) or “Salikhard” (instead of Salekhard). Some of these errors were challenged successfully, but the campaign was still unable to go through the more than 9,000 flaws the commission said it had found.
  • “I'm second only to Putin, I'm getting double digits in the polls, and you're telling me about 11 dead,” Nadezhdin said to the commission after his campaign was rejected. He was referring to an opinion poll he had commissioned from the Russian Field center that showed that 10.4% of Russians were ready to vote for Nadezhdin. Levada Center head Lev Gudkov estimated that support for Nadezhdin is “at most” about 4%.
  • Nadezhdin said he is going to appeal his exclusion from the ballot paper at the Supreme Court. He has almost no chance of success. The Supreme Court has consistently endorsed every decision to block candidates from elections and almost every opposition candidate taking legal action against the election commission at various levels has lost in court.
  • The expulsion means there will be just four names on the ballot for March’s election: Putin and three representatives of Kremlin-backed so-called opposition parties.

Why the world should care:

Even though Naezhdin was never registered as a candidate in the presidential election, his campaign swiftly mobilized tens of thousands of anti-war Russians both abroad and, much more significantly, at home. This show of support for a candidate opposing the invasion caused great distress to the Kremlin, which is determined to secure a comprehensive victory for Putin.


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