Alexei Navalny Nominated to Challenge Putin for Presidency

Lawyer and political and financial activist Alexei Navalny has been nominated to run for presidency next year against Vladimir Putin. Over 15,000 of his supporters met this weekend in 20 cities, from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, to compile the necessary signatures to endorse him.

Mr. Navalny is seen as the only man capable of beating Putin in the upcoming election in March 2018. However, due to a criminal conviction, election officials say it is not possible for him to run for president. He says the conviction is corrupt and politically motivated.

Putin hopes to secure his run for a fourth term and if he succeeds, this will make him the longest-serving Russian Leader since Joseph Stalin.

Navalny spoke at one of the gatherings outside Moscow, labelling Mr. Putin a “poor leader”.

"It is you, Vladimir Putin, who's turned this country into a source of personal enrichment for yourself, your family and your friends. That's why you should no longer be president. You are a bad president."

He said that Mr. Putin does not have the mass support he claims and to prove it, he intends to run against him. He claims that he would beat Mr. Putin in a fair fight, where he had access to state television (the main news source throughout the country). "[I would win] if I am allowed to run and if I'm allowed to use major media.”

Despite the opposition’s claims, Mr. Putin has approval ratings of 80%, which means he is almost guaranteed to win. Navalny however, has managed to galvanize some of Russia’s key regions over the last year.

Mr. Navalny is, for many Russians, the man to rid their country of corruption. He highlighted Putin’s alleged wrong-doings, saying he has taken "from poor people, oil, gas and metal worth trillions of dollars, sold it abroad, rewarded those people by turning them from poor to destitute".

Navalny gained his large following from organizing anti-Putin rallies in 2011-12, following accusations of vote rigging in parliamentary votes. Over time, the protests eased, and he has now been able to bring a fresh perspective on Russian politics, especially for the younger generation.

This year he has served three separate jail sentences of 15, 25 and 30 days following the protests. He says that these arrests are the Kremlin trying to destroy his political ambitions.

Other Presidential hopefuls include Sergei Polonsky, a property developer who also secured enough backing from supporters. Ksenia Sobchak is the other competitor, whose late father was Putin’s boss in the early 90s.

Tom Day

25 December 2017 17:30