Russian opposition calls for election protest

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to be re-confirmed in office on 17 March. Various representatives of the opposition - including Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia - are calling on citizens to turn up en masse at polling stations at 12 noon - as they did for Navalny's funeral and to sign Boris Nadezhdin's bid to stand as a presidential candidate. The plan could work, commentators say.

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Leonid Volkov (RU) /

Voting with your feet

Navalny's close ally Leonid Volkov explains the idea behind the protest on Facebook:

“March 17 is not an election. There are no candidates. There will be no observers. In most regions, no one will count the votes. ... 'Noon against Putin' turns Putin's abject 'non-elections' into 89,000 rallies that can't be broken up; 89,000 opportunities for living people to look at each other and see that they exist. What you do with your ballot paper at the polling station (and whether you do anything with it at all) is irrelevant. It's a big mistake to think of this event as an election. What counts is attendance. A vote with your feet.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Invalid is not invisible

St. Petersburg-based opposition activist Maxim Reznik is calling on voters to write "Navalny" on the ballot paper. A clever idea, as La Stampa explains:

“The goal of the initiative is to invalidate the ballot paper and have it counted as invalid (a blank ballot paper would run the risk of being 'filled in' by the poll workers at the polling station during the count): in this way they can influence the final result and represent a fifth, unnamed candidate in the final count on whom the protest should be focused.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Tarnishing the Kremlin's fake image

Gazeta Wyborcza hopes for a signal against Putin:

“'Election days are holidays', the Russians say. Only the very naive fail to understand that their results are 'painted'. The Kremlin's game is to create an 'image' in order to convince both citizens and public opinion abroad that, whatever the situation in Russia, the people still support Putin. ... But this 'holiday' can be spoilt. And this is already happening. ... If there are many who spoil it, and that may be the case, the world will see this Russia that dares to want change. This would tarnish the Kremlin's image.”