Russian state TV airs live political debate featuring Alexey Navalny, the leader of the anti-Putin opposition
A local branch of the national television network Rossiya-1 has broadcast a live political debate featuring opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who was previously thought to be informally barred from appearing on Russian state TV. Navalny leads the Party of Progress, which is a member of the so-called Democratic Coalition, a group fielding candidates in the Kostroma regional elections, scheduled for this Sunday, September 13.
"It's a very strange feeling. It was like television, but it was a live broadcast and I said what I wanted," Navalny wrote on Twitter.
While in Kostroma, Navalny also met with roughly 500 local voters, whom he encouraged to support Parnas (the political party on whose ticket Democratic Coalition candidates are running) at next weekend's election.
The Russian opposition has put forth candidates for 2015 regional parliamentary elections in Kostroma, Kaluga, Magadan, and Novosibirsk regions. In most of these regions, opposition candidates are running as representatives of the Democratic Coalition, an alliance between several opposition groups (Parnas, Alexei Navalny’s Party of Progress, the Democratic Choice Party, the 5th of December Party, and the Libertarian Party). In Kostroma region, candidates are running as representatives of Parnas, the People’s Freedom Party.
The elections commissions of all regions but Kostroma have barred the opposition from elections.
Earlier, Kostroma elections officials recommended removing the opposition's candidates from the race because they had allegedly fallen short of the minimum required number of signatures in support of their party. The elections commission reviewed the recommendations and ruled that they were unfounded.
Elections will take place on September 13, 2015, on Russia's general Election Day.