Opposing Military Action: Boris Nadezhdin Excluded from Russian Presidential Race
In yet another move to silence dissenting voices in Russia, anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin has been excluded from the upcoming presidential election, further narrowing the political landscape and consolidating power for Vladimir Putin. This decision was made by the Central Election Committee (CEC), the organization responsible for registering and verifying candidates, during a meeting held on Thursday.
Nadezhdin had gathered a substantial number of signatures from supporters, with 95,587 deemed valid by the CEC. However, this fell short of the required 100,000 signatures, leading to his exclusion from the race. In response, Nadezhdin expressed his intention to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court, emphasizing that there was no dispute over the fact that hundreds of thousands of individuals had signed his petition.
The exclusion of Nadezhdin from the race highlights a growing trend in Russia, where anyone who opposes Putin’s policies is systematically marginalized from the political sphere. As Moscow gears up for a presidential election that many outside observers view as a mere formality, anti-war activists, like Nadezhdin, find themselves cut off from the political process.
Nadezhdin, a staunch opponent of war and a vocal critic of Putin, had planned to run as an independent candidate for the Civic Initiative party. He is reportedly the only contender publicly opposed to invading Ukraine, making his exclusion even more significant.
Efforts to gather support for Nadezhdin’s candidacy have been ongoing, with volunteers collecting signatures from expats across Europe since January. Places like Tbilisi, London, and Paris saw thousands of signatures in favor of Nadezhdin being amassed. However, the CEC working group claimed that more than 15% of the required paperwork contained invalid signatures, exceeding the 5% threshold for registration.
Despite his attempts to reschedule the meeting on his involvement, Nadezhdin’s request was denied. He expressed the need for more time to analyze the issues and formulate his rebuttals. Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, justified the committee’s decision by stating that a significant number of signatures were invalid, implying that a crucial requirement had not been met.
The exclusion of Nadezhdin reflects a broader pattern set by Putin during his four-year presidency, which has only intensified since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The persecution and exclusion of political opponents in Russia have led to concerns about the erosion of democratic values and human rights.
Last month, Nadezhdin voiced his worries about the persecution faced by Putin’s opponents, revealing that his family also feared for his safety. He made the decision to run for president after engaging in a thoughtful discussion with his family about the importance of a calm and free nation for future generations.
The Kremlin has consistently downplayed the significance of Nadezhdin’s candidacy, with Peskov stating that they do not consider him a rival. Nevertheless, Nadezhdin’s efforts have gained attention, especially after he submitted the maximum number of signatures permitted by law to the CEC, which amounted to 105,000.
During an interview with Russian independent news station RTVI, Nadezhdin asserted that he would demand a “government pension and protection” if elected and would not subject Putin to a war crimes trial. These statements demonstrate the complexities and challenges of running against a president like Putin, who is widely expected to win re-election and extend his rule until 2030, making him the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin.
Unfortunately, Russian presidential elections have become mere plebiscites, lacking genuine political rivalry, due to the tightly controlled democratic system in the country. This exclusion of Nadezhdin serves as another example of the diminishing space for differing views and the suppression of opposition within Russian politics.
However, it’s worth noting that Nadezhdin is not the only independent candidate who has voiced opposition to the conflict in Ukraine. In December, another contender ran as an independent and openly expressed their opposition to the invasion. Despite their efforts, the Russian political landscape remains heavily skewed in favor of Putin’s regime. The upcoming presidential election is anticipated to be a mere formality, solidifying Putin’s grip on power and limiting the prospects for genuine political change in Russia.