Person of the Week: Prisoner of conscience Aleksei Navalny

Week-ending 17 September 2021

This week, on 13 September in a social media post written from prison, Aleksei Navalny called on Russians to vote tactically to maximise the vote against candidates from the United Russia party in the State Duma elections to be held over three days on 17 – 19 September. On 15 September Aleksei Navalny’s team published a list of recommended candidates. That day, Time magazine included Navalny in a list of the world’s ‘100 most influential people of 2021.’ The same day, police arrested five persons on Red Square in connection with a protest in support of Aleksei Navalny. On 16 September Russian mobile network providers began blocking Google Docs, used by Navalny’s team to disseminate its voting advice. On 17 September Google and Apple deleted the Navalny team’s tactical voting app from their online stores.

Sources and related news:

RFE/RL, 15 September 2021: Moscow police have detained four activists and a reporter over a brief protest in support of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny held on Red Square. Sergei Lukashov, Svetlana Lukashova, Sergei Rednikov, and Ilya Yermakov were detained on September 15, seconds after they unfolded a large banner saying “Free Navalny! Putin, go to jail,” and chanting “Free Aleksei Navalny!”

The Moscow Times, 13 September 2021: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has urged Russians to vote out ruling party candidates in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections in a social media post written from jail Monday.

The Moscow Times, 15 September 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team has published its long-anticipated roster of candidates it hopes supporters will rally behind to oust pro-Kremlin incumbents during this weekend’s parliamentary elections.

RFE/RL, 15 September 2021: Imprisoned Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has been included in Time magazine’s annual list of “the 100 most influential people of 2021.”

The Moscow Times, 16 September 2021: President Vladimir Putin on Thursday urged Russians to vote in parliamentary elections later this week in which most vocal Kremlin critics have been barred from running.

RFE/RL, 11 September 2021: In recent months, Russia has ratcheted up its campaign to rein in Western tech giants, stopping short of blocking the platforms outright but issuing hefty fines against Google, Facebook, and Twitter and demanding that they remove content the government has deemed offensive, dangerous, or lewd.

RFE/RL, 12 September 2021: But voters will head to the polls in a virtual information void thanks to pressure on independent media, pollsters, monitors, and other checks and balances to the Kremlin line that could help accurately assess the political landscape and electoral results.

The Moscow Times, 16 September 2021: Russian mobile network providers have begun blocking Google Docs after jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team used the platform in its campaign to defeat ruling party incumbents, independent monitors said Wednesday.

The Guardian, 17 September 2021: Russians will head to the polls beginning on Friday for parliamentary elections that could serve as a platform for popular anger over the economy, a crackdown on dissent and the government response to the coronavirus pandemic. But the ruling party, United Russia, is likely to find a way to maintain a stranglehold on its control of the State Duma.

The Guardian, 17 September 2021: Supporters of the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have accused Google and Apple of capitulating to Kremlin pressure after the two tech companies deleted his tactical voting app from their online stores.

The Moscow Times, 17 September 2021: The Kremlin praised Google and Apple’s move to take down jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s tactical voting strategy apps on Friday, saying the “Smart Voting” recommendations harm voters.

RFE/RL, 17 September 2021: Now voters in the region more than 6,000 kilometers east of the capital are going to the polls in an early election to fill Furgal’s spot, and the Kremlin seems determined to make sure the way is clear for Degtyaryov to keep his seat.

RFE/RL, 17 September 2021: Andrei Biryukov, a member of the regional election commission of Siberia’s Kemerovo region, says he has discovered procedural violations in all 12 polling stations around the town of Guryevsk (population 24,000). Moreover, he believes the irregularities were intentional, aimed at facilitating falsification of the ongoing elections in Russia.

RFE/RL, 17 September 2021: Budget-sector workers in Russia were pictured flocking to polling stations across the country as voting in nationwide legislative elections began.

The Moscow Times, 17 September 2021: This weekend, Muscovites hoping to vote for Communist Party (KPRF) candidates in elections to Russia’s State Duma will have to be careful to tick the right box. In the Russian capital, KPRF candidates Vitaly Petrov, Nikolai Volkov and Anastasia Udaltsova will run against Vasily Petrov, Alexei Volkov and Anna Udalova, all from the much smaller Communists of Russia party. 

The Moscow Times, 17 September 2021: Russia’s three-day voting periods are likely here to stay, the head of the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said Friday, a move that critics warn will make it easier to commit voter fraud. 

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