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Infighting Hits Opposition Camp as Moscow Mayoral Campaign Opens

Two liberals are fighting for the chance to oust Kremlin man Sobyanin from one of Russia’s most powerful elected posts.

13 April 2018

Describing the policies of the incumbent Moscow mayor and the ruling national United Russia party as “barbaric,” liberal Russian opposition leader Ilya Yashin (pictured) tweeted on Wednesday that he would run for mayor in September’s elections.


“I don’t have administrative resources or oligarchs behind me, I only have your support” in the campaign to unseat incumbent Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, he tweeted later that day, as cited by The Moscow Times.


Yashin is head of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and a champion of Russia’s non-parliamentary opposition. He has often organized or participated in rallies for fair elections in Russia. According to Meduza, Yashin named Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation as his closest allies.


Complicating Yashin’s run is the fact that another opposition candidate is already in the race. Former State Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov announced his candidacy more than a year ago, saying then he intended “to be the only democratic candidate,” The Moscow Times reported.


Gudkov was not pleased with Yashin’s announcement as he tweeted that it should be read as “personal interests always above society’s interests.”


Saying he shares the view that the liberal opposition should put forth a single candidate, Yashin proposed holding a primary to choose between him and Gudkov, he writes for Echo of Moscow.


Navalny welcomed Yashin’s bid to run for mayor, and said he would support “any candidate who wins the primaries,” according to The Moscow Times.



  • Yashin was a political ally of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov until the latter’s murder in 2015. Yashin published a report in 2016 linking Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to the assassination.


  • Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013 and made an unexpectedly strong showing, receiving 27 percent of the vote. Sobyanin received 51 percent, just enough to avoid a runoff against Navalny. As a result of an embezzlement conviction, which he claims was politically motivated, Navalny is now barred from seeking public office. This conviction prevented him from running in last month’s presidential elections.


  • One of few mayors to openly criticize President Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Roizman, is looking vulnerable after the legislature of Sverdlovsk region earlier this month abolished direct election of mayors in the regional capital, Yekaterinburg. Thousands protested against the decision, according to RFE/RL.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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