Is Navalny's plan working?: Russia is calling on citizens to vote

New governors and deputies to local parliaments are being elected in more than 80 Russian regions.

Is Navalny's plan working?: Russia is calling on citizens to vote

New governors and deputies to local parliaments are being elected in more than 80 Russian regions. There isn't much choice: numerous members of the opposition are abroad or behind bars. Nevertheless, Kremlin critic Navalny calls on the Russians to take part in the elections - with a special strategy.

Against the background of the war in Ukraine, local and regional elections have started in Russia. According to the electoral commission, around 44 million people in 82 regions are called upon to cast their votes.

In 14 of these regions, the governors are elected directly, in six others the voters choose new deputies for the regional parliaments. The representatives of the municipal parliaments are also elected in twelve major cities, including the capital Moscow.

The opposition in Russia is under massive pressure. The situation has worsened since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Dozens of government critics have been arrested or fled the country in recent months. Most independent media have been shut down.

In many regions, the elections take place over three days. For the first time in 2020, ballots were held for such a long time in order to limit the rush and the associated risk of corona infection. In mid-August, the head of the electoral commission, Ella Pamfilova, said the extended vote was an effective "preventive measure" and a "very practical format".

However, many Russian activists accused the government of using the long ballots to manipulate votes. Since the ballot boxes would be stored for a long time before the count, the votes could be more easily falsified.

In Moscow, numerous commercials urge people to go to the polls. According to an AFP reporter, they can take part in lotteries at the polling stations, where they can win gifts.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in March, called on Russians to go to the polls and pursue the "smart election" strategy. The eligible voters vote for the candidate who is most likely to be able to win against the Kremlin's candidate.

"Any measure aimed at weakening elements of the Putin system is right and represents a civic duty," Navalny said in a recent Twitter message. He called for a vote "against war, lies, corruption and poverty".

The "smart voting" strategy had already achieved some local successes in the past. However, the political landscape dominated by President Vladimir Putin's party "United Russia" has still not changed fundamentally.

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