‘He’ll either be killed or put in prison’ Presidential hopeful Boris Nadezhdin is particularly popular among Russian youth. Here’s what they have to say about his plan to run for office.
While most candidates running for the Russian presidency have already finished collecting the signatures required to register, Boris Nadezhdin’s supporters were still lining up this week to add theirs. In St. Petersburg, hundreds of people showed up, most of whom were under 25 years old. Independent outlet Bumaga asked them whether they think it’s possible for him to actually win, what they think of the other candidates, and if they’ll vote if he’s not on the ballot. Meduza in English is publishing a translation of their responses.
23 years old
I came to add a signature for Nadezhdin because my friends influenced me. When I was younger, I mostly just followed [jailed Kremlin critic Alexey] Navalny. Back then, I was busy with my studies and college and didn’t have time for politics. But now, I have more free time and I wanted to do something, given what’s going on. I read a bit about Yekaterina Duntsova, but after they rejected her, I decided to come here.
Will they let Nadezhdin [register his candidacy]? It’s a good question, of course, though I don’t want to be overly positive or, on the contrary, overly negative. You have to hope for the best. If they don’t let him, then I’ll probably still go vote. We’ll see what influential people say about how to make a bigger impact. Everyone in my family is very skeptical and doesn’t vote. Well, around eight years ago, they threw in a ballot for Zhirinovsky, but they don’t usually.
21 years old
If a person wants to run for office, then you need to give them a chance. Are his views similar to mine? Yes, you could say that. I don’t think he’ll make it to the election given the current circumstances. I haven’t asked my family what they think about Nadezhdin yet, but I don’t think they would’ve gone to add their signature. They don’t vote at all. But I’ll go.
19 years old
Why Nadezhdin? Anyone but Putin. It’s clear that other candidates support Putin and as far as I can tell, don’t plan to win. They aren’t candidates. I’d like him to make it to the elections, but sometimes I think he’ll either be killed or put in jail. Anything can happen. Even if they don’t allow him [to run for president], I’ll still go vote, but for now, I don’t know who I’d vote for. My parents plan to add their signatures for Nadezhdin. My friends too.
22 years old
My heart wants to do something. And, of course, when there’s such a great opportunity to do something [add signatures in support of an opposition candidate], you need to make use of it. I even tried to some extent to help [former FSB officer, pro-war blogger, and convicted war criminal] Igor Girkin make it to the election, but he was put in jail, while Nadezhdin wasn’t. That’s why we need to take this opportunity to nominate him for president. I know very general information about the other candidates. I have relatives and acquaintances who support Nadezhdin. Not many, but some. It’s just that no one knows him. Will he make it to the elections? Of course not! And then I probably won’t go vote.
22 years old
It’s hard to take what’s happening right now seriously, but I still want to participate. Nadezhdin’s appeal is his stance against the war and that he’s the only one in opposition — or a semblance of it, an illusion. The agenda of other [political powers] doesn’t change from year to year, I’m not particularly interested in other parties’ candidates. Most people I know are only talking about Nadezhdin, but there are some who are going [to add signatures in support of his candidacy]. I want to believe that he’ll make it to the elections. If not, I’ll still go vote. Any alternative is better than Putin.
23 years old
Most people in my circle are around my age or around three years older. From the moment the war started, I followed political news and felt anxious. In 2022, I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore and tuned out of politics, though some major news does make it into my consciousness. I tried to be apolitical, but the presidential race began, and my friends who follow politics and are trying to leave Russia are saying “Look at Boris Nadezhdin!”
I saw a few videos and reels about what changes would take place if Boris Nadezhdin was elected president, and I sent them to my boyfriend, saying: “After this, I’ll believe in Russia again!” I realized that I had to express my civic position and add my signature. I also saw reels about the other candidates, who were asked what results they expect from the elections. All of their responses were along the lines of: “The most important thing isn’t that I’m elected, but that Russia prospers.” But Boris Nadezhdin said: “The most important thing is that I’m not declared an extremist and a foreign agent after the election.” It’s such a reality in Russia! And I thought: “Yeah, that’s definitely our candidate!”
We have to go vote no matter what so that the ballot isn’t left empty and used to vote for Putin. My family didn’t discuss the election at all. My dad supports Putin, and my mom just believes in a better future. She doesn’t really state her actual position. I don’t bring up these conversations with them.
24 years old
I added my signature for Nadezhdin because they got rid of the other anti-war candidates. I read through the other candidates’ responses to whether they want to win the election. I pretty much realized that you shouldn’t consider them candidates. [Nadezhdin’s] democratic values resonate with me. I heard very little about Nadezhdin before his [plan to register for] candidacy was announced. My family hasn’t heard anything about him. Whether he’ll make it to the election — that’s a tough question, but I really hope he will. If not, I’ll be very disappointed. I’ll try to somehow defend Mr. Nadezhdin’s right to run for president. I’ll go to vote no matter what and support the least disagreeable candidate.
22 years old
Nadezhdin is speaking out against the war and against extending the presidential term. I familiarized myself with the other candidates’ stories — they’re very strange. I think they’re more needed to fill the ballots and not as genuine candidates. They don’t even believe they can win. But Nadezhdin is a real candidate. No one even knew who he was before, and now he’s resonating with people. It gives a lot of hope. Even his last name is meaningful — Nadezhdin! [Note: In Russian Nadezhda means hope]. Even if he doesn’t make it to the election, I’ll still go vote. There’s no one really to vote for, but I’ll look [at the candidates’ platforms]. The outcome is already predictable and I’ll be very unhappy with it. People in my university are funny — they’re apolitical and completely strange. People at my work also don’t know who Nadezhdin is. I was shocked. But my family has a good attitude — they believe in Nadezhdin.
24 years old
He’s an anti-war candidate. I liked his clear position, he’s able to say sensible things. I see him all the time on TikTok. I hadn’t heard about him before [his plan to run for office was announced]. I read the whole Wikipedia article about him. And the rest, well, what can I say about them? Leonid Slutsky, that rapist, and the other two who were allowed [Vladislav Davankov] from the New People party and [Nikolai Kharitonov] from CPRF [the Communist Party]. I saw they support continuing the war, so I skipped them. If they don’t allow Nadezhdin, and there’s a similar candidate, then I might go vote, but it’s unlikely. Almost no one I know talks about Nadezhdin, no one knows anything.
22 years old
I was interested in Nadezhdin because he’s against the war. And he has strong support from people. It makes sense to submit a signature for him. I haven’t read about the other candidates. I’ll read about them if they reject Nadezhdin [from participating in the election] and maybe I’ll support a different candidate. I’ll go vote in any case. No one I know is talking about Nadezhdin or the election. It’s basically not acceptable to talk about politics. It feels like there’s no choice.