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Mar 6, 2024, 12:02pm EST
Europe
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Semafor Signals

Yulia Navalnaya calls for election day protest against Putin

Insights from The Moscow Times, Meduza, and The Washington Post

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REUTERS/Johanna Geron
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The News

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, called on his supporters to protest against the Kremlin at elections next week by voting for anyone but President Vladimir Putin.

Although Putin is all but guaranteed to secure his fifth term in the closely-managed presidential vote, “we can still use these so-called elections against him,” Navalnaya said in an announcement posted on YouTube. “It will help millions of people see like-minded people and realize that we are not alone, we are surrounded by people who are also against war, against corruption, and against lawlessness.”

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The protest, dubbed “noon against Putin” — as supporters are being asked to turn up at polling booths by noon on election day, Mar. 17 — was also promoted by Navalny before his sudden death last month. “This could be a powerful demonstration of the country’s mood,” he wrote on X on Feb. 1. “Real people queuing to vote against Putin vs fake and artificial votes for him.”

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Kremlin seeks to up voter numbers amid little interest in election

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Sources:  
The Moscow Times, Meduza

The Kremlin’s election team wants to ensure that Putin wins by his highest margin yet: Authorities are aiming to ensure 80% of the votes go to the Russian president, several independent outlets have reported. But as “people have no doubt that the president will win, [and] this has a negative impact on turnout,” one source close to the presidential administration told Meduza. In a bid to get voters out to reelect Putin, officials have had to develop new strategies for ensuring voter turnout, the outlet reported. Sergey Kiriyenko, a high-ranking Kremlin official, “will personally incinerate” officials who fail to “deliver the requested turnout numbers,” a political strategist working with the government said.

Opposition urges participation despite expectations of vote-rigging

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Sources:  
Russian Election Monitor, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The Hill, Golos

While Navalny’s team asked supporters to boycott Russia’s last presidential election in 2018, after the former lawyer was barred from running, this time the country’s opposition is united in urging voters to turn out despite widespread expectations of vote-rigging. Prominent opposition figures including blogger Maxim Katz, businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and the economist Sergei Guriev have all backed the call to vote for anyone but Putin. “Maybe in a few years we will have real elections, but we need to have this habit to vote,” Russian opposition figure Alena Popova told Time Magazine last year. Even so, anti-war Russians will find themselves without an obvious candidate to back. While several hand-picked figures have been allowed to compete against Putin, two opposition candidates were banned. Last year regional elections were marred by hundreds of complaints about violations of voting rules, such as threats of violence, vote buying, and ballot stuffing, the Russian election watchdog Golos reported.

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