Russia Update: Opposition Campaigner Summoned to Police, Continues Hunger Strike

August 7, 2015
Leonid Volkov (far right) with two independent candidates in Novosibirsk in August 2015, during a hunger strike to protest refusal of authorities to register opposition candidates.

Opposition campaign manager Leonid Volkov and two Novosibirsk alternative candidates Yegor Savin and Aleksandr Filyurin continued their hunger strike in protest against disqualification of their signatures to get on the ballot.

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Is ‘Novorossiya’ Really Dead?
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Opposition Campaigner Leonid Volkov Summoned to Police, Continues Hunger Strike

Novaya Gazeta reports that yesterday, August 6, opposition member Leonid Volkov, leader of the Parnas party,  was summoned to the police in a case of election fraud in which he and his colleagues themselves had submitted complaints when they saw one of their signature-gatherers (whom they believe to be a provocateur) filed obviously invalid signatures.

Translation: I’ve just been brought a summons for interrogation at 16:30 local time. They don’t realize that the Central Elections Commission meeting has been moved!

Earlier, campaign volunteers were summoned to the Investigative Committee. On July 29, Volkov and others were fined 1000 rubles (US $) for “disobeying police” when they began protesting at the election office.

and two opposition candidates have been on a hunger strike for the last
10 days to protest unfair practices by the Election Commission in
Novosibirsk. As TASS reported, only 10,340 signatures supporting the Parnas party were recognized as
valid while the minimum number of signatures required for registration
stands at 10,657. The opposition has formed the Democratic Coalition to
attempt to run alternative candidates in a number of provincial cities
— finding they are thwarted everywhere.

As Volkov has noted on his Facebook page,
in the case of Novosibirsk, election officials disqualified a crucial number of the
opposition’s collected signatures on what appeared to be specious grounds and thus prevented them from getting
on the ballot. They claimed the signers were not in the data base of
the Federal Migration Service, although the opposition claims they are
not using the most up-to-date list from that agency, and have cited examples. Officials also
discounted people with Soviet-era passports or those who recently
changed their passports, although there is no law disqualifying such
people from participation in the elections. Slight name misspellings,
such as “Darya Timurovich” instead of the grammatically proper
“Timurovna,” the patronymic for a female, meant a signature was also

Volkov said that the Elections Commission displayed its
politicized agenda when it turned over all their coalition’s signature
lists to the Federal Security Service (FSB) for “additional expert
analysis” — and found 224 more “invalid” signatures.

The opposition has called for a protest gathering “for honest elections” on August 11 at 7 pm local time.

Volkov was a close colleague of RPR-Parnas party leader Boris Nemtsov, assassinated February 27, 2015 on the eve of a planned opposition march called “Spring”. Volkov
also served as the campaign manager of Aleksei Navalny during the 2013
Moscow mayoral elections, where Navalny gathered 30% of the vote.

Vesna-Press-Conference.jpgOpposition press conference February 20, 2015 for “Vesna” (Spring) opposition march planned March 1, 2015. From left to right: Leonid Volkov, Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Sergei Davidis and Vladimir Milov. Nemtsov was assassinated February 27, 2015 and the protest action was converted to a funeral march. Kara-Murza was poisoned on May 26, 2015 and was in a coma for many weeks; he is now recovering. Photo by Baroshin.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick