This is a translation of an article describing the allegations levied against the opposition candidate for Moscow Mayor, Alexei Navalny, that his campaign is foreign-funded. Navalny has responded to these allegations in English (here) and in Russian (the link is in the article below). – Ed.
Alexei Navalny, candidate for mayor of Moscow from RPR PARNAS (Republican Party of Russia – Party of Popular Freedom) has violated Russian election law; his campaign, according to the Russian Federation Prosecutor General, has been sponsored by foreign legal and physical persons. The Prosecutor General has already sent all the necessary materials to the Interior Ministry for the opening of a criminal case. Navalny’s campaign headquarters denies the charges. Meanwhile, Kommersant has learned at the Moscow City Elections Commission that the funding of a campaign by foreign citizens is not grounds for canceling a candidate’s registration.
“It has been established that more than 300 foreign legal and physical persons, and also anonymous contributors from 46 countries of the world (including the US, Finland, Great Britain, Switzerland, Canada) with 347 IP addresses, sent money for Navalny’s election campaign for mayor of Moscow through the electronic payments system money.yandex to the electronic wallets of Navalny and campaign staff members N.N. Lyaskin, K.S. Yankauskas and V.L. Ashurkov,” says an official notice from the Prosecutor General’s office placed on the agency’s web site.
“There is not more than a 15% chance of likelihood that Aleksei Navalny will be removed from the elections, Mikhail Vinogradov, president of St. Petersburg Policy told Kommersant FM regarding the Prosecutor General’s claims about Navalny’s campaign funding.
Law-enforcers launched a probe of the sources of funding for Navalny’s mayoral campaign after an appeal from Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) faction in the State Duma.
“At this stage of the inspection, some of V. V. Zhirinovsky’s claims have been confirmed,” noted the Prosecutor General’s office. The Prosecutor General made the decision to transfer the materials from the probe to the Russian Interior Ministry “to decide the issue of opening a criminal case.” We will recall that under federal law, and even the electoral code of Moscow (Art. 59, par. 2) funding of the campaign chests of candidates is prohibited by foreign organizations and citizens.
Navalny’s campaign staff deny the prosecutor’s claims. “Before commenting on the Prosecutor’s Statement, we have to see their materials,” Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny’s campaign staff told ITAR-TASS. “But in any event, I can emphasize that there is naturally no funding whatsoever of Alexei’s (Navalny’s) election campaign by foreigners.” Vladimir Ashurkov, a representative of the campaign headquarters, told RIA Novosti: “The contributions to money.yandex.ru from our supporters are not connected at all with the contributions to the election fund. The funds for the elections campaign go through an election account opened at Sberbank by Alexei Navalny.”
Meanwhile, in a post on his blog dated 29 July, Navalny wrote that he has “collected donations of approximately 20 million rubles for the election campaign.” However, in order for the funds to be included in the registry, not only the contact information for the Sberbank account was offered, but also a Yandex wallet number.
Writes Navalny on his Live Journal blog:
“The funding of our campaign is done strictly by the law and has been legally done without reproach. All payments go through the payments account at Sberbank. All payments are verified by the Moscow City Elections Commission. If they tell us: a payment is illegal, a patronymic isn’t indicated, or a birth date, or even more, a nationality – we return the payment.”
In an interview with Kommersant FM, Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, discussed the method of donations to money.yandex.ru which Navalny has used in his fight for the post of mayor of Moscow.
“The list of reasons for canceling the registration of a candidate is very short (for example, if the candidate has used funds besides the cash from his own election fund and if that sum exceeds 5% of the limit for expenditure of money from the election fund—Kommersant), and the [type of] sources of funding is not in it,” says Andrei Buzin, a consulting member of the Moscow City Elections Commission. “Violation of the funding [rules] of an electoral campaign is an administrative misdemeanor and a fine must be levied for it through a judicial procedure.”
According to Buzin, either the Elections Commission or one of Navalny’s rivals can appeal to the court. “They can appeal to the court right now, but in that case they will have to wait while the government agencies find proof that would enable them to remove Alexei Navalny,” noted Buzin.
How the Central Elections Commission Casts Doubts On money.yandex.ru
On 7 August, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) conducted interim totals of the regional election campaign. Leonid Ivlev, deputy chairman of the CEC found there was “tolerance and loyalty” in relations between the elections commissions and the candidates. But he added that he condemned the collection of funds for elections using Internet wallets, which Moscow mayoral candidate Navalny and Gennady Gudkov, candidate for governor of Moscow Region had done.
How Alexei Navalny’s Scheme for Funding His Campaign Was Found Illegal
Navalny’s scheme for funding his election campaign for mayor of Moscow violates election law, says Konstantin Mazurevsky, deputy chairman of the United Russia Central Executive Committee. The previous day, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the LDPR, had proposed inspecting the sources of funding of Navalny’s campaign for mayor.