This is an example of how Putin’s party tries to consolidate power.
Ilegal, immoral, and unethical. Harassment, intimidation, and suppression of any candidate or information which might threaten, in this case, the Russian Duma, from having any actual meaningful opposition.
Lyubov Sobol presents a credible and meaningful threat to the ruling party. Ruffians throw urine, feces (video in Tweet, below), and sodas on papers to gather 4,500 signatures for her to be eligible to run for office.
This is how Putin and his party maintain control. Illegal, immoral, and unethical.
On the face of it, the task ahead of 31-year-old lawyer Lyubov Sobol seems simple enough. To qualify as a candidate for the September 8 Moscow City Duma elections, Sobol just needs to submit 4,500 verifiable signatures of support by July 6.
But Sobol is not just any candidate. She’s a prominent investigator with opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, who has made a name for herself presenting scathing probes into the allegedly illegal privatization of city-owned housing by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and his allies.
She has also probed allegations that a company controlled by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin — a close friend of President Vladimir Putin who has been dubbed “Putin’s chef” because his firms have catered high-profile Kremlin events — provided substandard food to Moscow schools under an illegal insider contract.
As a result, Sobol has told RFE/RL, her campaign for the city Duma seat from Moscow’s 43rd district has faced an onslaught of dirty tactics clearly aimed at intimidating her and her supporters and derailing her candidacy from the beginning.
“I have no doubt that this is being done by the Moscow mayor’s office,” she says. “No one else stands to benefit, because other than ones supported by the mayor’s office, there are no candidates running against me who would want to keep me off the ballot. I believe this is tied either to the presidential administration or to the Moscow mayor’s office. In fact, I think they are acting together.”
Sobol says she spends much of her time running from one signature-gathering point to another, fending off threats from the police.
“The police show up and start threatening to take the signature collectors to the precinct,” she says. “When I show up, the conflict dies down because I am a candidate and they don’t have the right to detain me. But they make a lot of problems for the signature collectors.”
In addition, Sobol says, groups of “intimidatingly large” men frequently approach her supporters.
“They threaten the collectors, tear up the signed forms, pour soda all over our papers, and then run off,” she says. “There is no point in calling the police because they run off quickly. But they destroy our signatures, which is a criminal offense.”
“They hide their faces and break our telephones when we try to film them,” she continues. “It is the same people showing up at various collection points. Clearly they are not local residents but hired thugs who come just to frighten us and destroy the signatures we gather.”
On June 22, three collection points were attacked, with the vandals throwing a large bucket of fecal matter at a campaign poster and the volunteers in two of the incidents.