Russian media sources have begun to report that Boris Nadezhdin, who hoped to run for president, has been barred from candidacy by Russia’s Central Election Commission. Reportedly, this came after a surge of support from Russian citizens for his anti-war message, with his polling creeping close to 10%, eventually leading to a direct response from the Kremlin.
Who is Boris Nadezhdin?
Former Duma member and mathematician, born in Uzbekistan, Nadezhdin had a semi-significant political career, most notably pushing for nationalist political movements around the 2010s, representing opposition voters in Russian politics, and opposing the war and military intervention in Ukraine in recent years, criticizing both Russia’s military command and intelligence services for their poor performance in the conflict and saying it isn’t a winnable fight for his country.
Russian Presidential Race:
Meduza reports that sources inside current Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political bloc have said that while there is no belief that Nadezhdin could win the election, his presence and poll share alone could disrupt the overwhelming majority win that incumbent Putin is seeking. The Kremlin is purportedly seeking an 80% majority win or more, which would set a historical win margin in Russian elections; in 2018, Putin was recorded as winning 77% of the votes, his highest share ever.
Meduza also reports that these sources said there was consideration to allow Nadezhdin in the election since it would increase voter turnout overall, but ultimately they decided it would be easier to manipulate electronic voting turnout statistics to boost the number artificially.
Meduza: “According to a survey from the independent research company Russian Field that was commissioned by the Nadezhdin campaign, the anti-war candidate currently has the support of 7.8 percent of voters. To put that in context:
• Support for Communist Party candidate Nikolai Kharitonov’s is at 3.3 percent;
• Support for Leonid Slutsky, the candidate from the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, is at 2.9 percent;
• Support for New People party candidate Vladislav Davankov is at 1 percent;
• Support for Vladimir Putin (according to this survey) exceeds 62 percent.”
According to Meduza as well, the CEC is not allowing any smaller candidates to run whose parties are not represented in Parliament, such as Nadezhdin. Although again considered a strategy to disrupt Putin’s opponents with lots of smaller, independent ones, it was decided against to prevent a “festival of no-names.” Additionally the amount of votes that CEC contested also would’ve met the required 15% of his signatures to disqualify him from the race.
Meduza: “According to the CEC, it received 104,734 signatures in support of Nadezhdin. After checking 60,000 signatures, the body invalidated 9,147. The CEC said it found the signatures of 11 deceased individuals. It rejected another 858 signatures due to information it said it received from Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry. The committee invalidated 1,767 signatures because the individual who collected them was not on the official list of collectors and 995 where the collector’s personal data reportedly differed from what was on the official list. Another 123 were rejected because someone other than the collector allegedly filled out the sheets on their behalf.”
Nadezhdin responded to the CEC saying on Telegram: “I disagree with the CEC’s decision. I’ve collected over 200,000 signatures from across Russia. We conducted the collection openly and honestly — the whole world monitored lines at our headquarters and at collection points. Running for president in 2024 is the most important political decision of my life. I’m not backing down from my intentions.”
Meduza: “During the meeting (with the CEC), Nadezhdin asked the committee to postpone its final ruling on whether to allow his candidacy to February 10. “It’s not just me standing here. Behind me are hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens who have signed for me […] According to all polls, I’m in second place after Putin. These are tens of millions of people who want to vote for me. And you’re telling me about signatures from 11 dead people and about incorrect passports,” he said. The CEC refused to postpone its ruling.”
Nadezhdin is likely to bring this issue to a Russian court based on his messages; additionally, he expressed how he was against the situation turning into the “Maidan” protests like in Ukraine.