Russia politics: Quick View - Protesters across Russia call for election boycott

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Institution
Economist Intelligence Unit
Abstract
No abstract is available.
Topic
Politics, News Analysis, Forecast, Political stability
Political Geography
Russia

Event

On January 28th Aleksei Navalny, an opposition politician, organised protests across Russia. The protesters called for a boycott of the March presidential election following the decision in December of the Central Election Commission to bar Mr Navalny from running as a candidate.

Analysis

Demonstrations were held in 84 cities. The Ministry of the Interior estimates that 3,500 people attended the protests, including 1,000 in Moscow, the capital. It is likely that turnout was much higher. Kommersant, a daily newspaper, reported that 2,000 people attended the protests in Moscow, 2,000 in St Petersburg, 1,500 in Yekaterinburg, over 1,000 in Kazan and 500 in Kaliningrad. Some 300 people were arrested by the police. Mr Navalny was arrested (as usual), but released without charges. His headquarters were raided by the police to disrupt an online broadcast of the protests.

Despite an intense media campaign on the internet (mass media do not cover Mr Navalny, as they are state-controlled), support for Mr Navalny is losing traction. He is currently failing to mobilise as many supporters as last year, when he held election rallies aimed at boosting his popularity in the regions. In March 2017 he held anti-corruption protests in 80 cities, gathering about 60,000 people. Mr Navalny changed strategy when the election commission confirmed on December 25th that he would not be allowed to run as a candidate in the presidential election. He is now pushing for a boycott of the election, which he says cannot be legitimate without his participation. However, Mr Navalny's shift away from protesting against corruption does not seem to inspire the same level of support as his 2017 campaign rallies.

Unconfirmed reports in Russian media claimed last year that Mr Putin aims for a 70/70 victory in the election; that is to say, 70% of the vote with 70% turnout. Mr Navalny is betting that a low turnout will undermine the legitimacy of Mr Putin's new term, but this seems unlikely given the lack of interest in politics among the general population. Mr Navalny is scoring at around 2% in opinion polls. However, he unexpectedly won 30% of the vote in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election, making him a credible opponent in the eyes of Mr Putin.

Data provided by: