Navalny’s camp plans to disrupt Putin’s path to becoming President

With full control of the Russian political landscape, Vladimir Putin officially announced on Friday, the 8th of December, that he will run for a sixth term in the presidential elections. Although Putin has no serious rival, with most prominent ones in jail or exile, opposition activists see this as an opportunity to show Putin’s vulnerability, reports Reuters.
Despite the Kremlin’s control over the state media and its ability to influence who can and cannot run, Aleksei Navalny’s allies believe that this is not a real election and intend to engage the Russian people in political conversations before the elections to convince them that the Ukrainian war and the economic tensions it has caused are problems of Putin’s making, writes Reuters.
Navalny’s team admits that they cannot defeat Putin, but aims to change Russia’s political agenda, Navalny’s chief adviser Leonid Volkov told Reuters.

The Kremlin, which is confident of a Putin victory, rejects any serious challenge to his expected victory.

According to Reuters, only three persons have now declared their intention to run against Vladimir Putin in the upcoming presidential elections – Boris Nadezhdin, Yekaterina Duntsova and nationalist Igor Girkin, who is in prison. Other potential candidates, such as communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, both experienced politicians, have not yet announced their candidacy.
Lyubov Sobol, who like Volkov is on the official list of “terrorists and extremists”, told Reuters that the Navalny camp, without a candidate of its own, has launched its own campaign calling on Russians to vote against Putin,

referring to the “collective candidate against Putin”.

On the website, they call on volunteers, especially those who have fled Russia since the start of the war, to engage in activities such as cold-calling voters, with the intention of engaging Russian citizens in conversations, spreading campaign messages online, sticking leaflets and drawing graffiti on the streets.
After the elections were announced, the Navalny camp quickly launched its campaign, placing blue billboards in major cities with a New Year greeting and a QR code that led to the website. However, the authorities quickly removed the billboards and blocked access to the site, limiting the impact of the campaign.
Sobol told Reuters that opposition polls showed people were dissatisfied with Putin, but because of the repression people were reluctant to express it openly. She said that it was the level of repression in Russia that showed that the authorities were worried about Putin’s authority and therefore now was the time to cause Putin problems.
Read also: Russia to hold presidential elections in March
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