The Russian Election Commission has excluded the candidacy of opposition politician Boris Nadezhdin from the next presidential elections, which will be held between March 15 and 17. The commission said there were problems with some of the signatures collected to submit the nomination. The Commission is controlled by Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian government, and many suspected that Nadezhdin might be excluded from the elections so as not to hinder the Russian president. Putin he has already presented himself as a candidate and will almost certainly be re-elected for a fifth term.
According to the Election Commission, 15 percent of the signatures collected by Nadezhdin had irregularities or belonged to dead people. In Russia, to run for election as an independent, you need 100,000 signatures collected in at least 40 regions. Nadezhdin’s movement had collected 105 thousand. Nadezhdin said that will appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Election Commission.
Elections in Russia have not been free for many years: the other presidential candidates are figures within the regime, while the candidacy of real opponents is often rejected for laughable reasons. It also happened at the end of December to former journalist Yekaterina Duntsova, one of Putin’s most visible opponents still at large.
Nadezhdin is 60 years old and has a long political career behind him; He recently spoke out openly against the war in Ukraine, attacking President Vladimir Putin quite directly. He had defined the “special operation” in Ukraine as a “huge mistake”, and had promised to end the war and withdraw the soldiers from the front if elected. But he had also said he wanted to free political prisoners and had defined the restrictions on abortion and the laws against the LGBTQ+ movement as “completely senseless things, from the Middle Ages”.
At the same time, his intentions on other issues were not entirely clear: he is now part of the center-right Civic Initiative party, but eight years ago he was an election observer in Putin’s re-election team.
After his beginnings in local politics in Moscow in the 1990s, in 1999 he was elected deputy for the first time, with the Union of Right Forces. He worked as an advisor to Boris Nemtsov, who later became one of Putin’s major opponents and was killed in 2015, and later as an assistant to Sergei Kiriyenko, who today is responsible for developing the internal policy of the Putin regime.
He was long considered close to Sergei Mironov, leader of Just Russia, one of the “systemic opposition” parties: they are political formations that play a “front” opposition role within the Russian parliament, but which on all the most important issues important people vote together with Putin’s party, United Russia.
Due to his past political experiences, there was a certain skepticism about the real nature of his opposition to Putin: there are those who considered it as a possible expression of the Russian government itself, proposed to channel dissent towards controllable men and parties. This has already happened in the past in Russia, for example with the creation of the New People party by the entrepreneur Aleksei Nechayev, owner of a cosmetics company.