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Murmansk election officials reject Violetta Grudina’s candidacy due to links to Team Navalny

Election officials in Murmansk have refused to register opposition politician Violetta Grudina as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Grudina, who was formerly the head of Alexey Navalny’s Murmansk campaign office, said the election commission cited her links to Team Navalny as the grounds for rejecting her candidacy. 

“According to a paper from the Justice Ministry about extremism, they waited until the end of the appeal in the Navalny headquarters’ case and began the meeting. They’re disgraceful,” she wrote on Telegram on Tuesday, August 4.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, a Moscow court rejected an appeal against the “extremism” designation handed down to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and network of regional campaign offices back in June. 

About a dozen opposition politicians have already been barred from running in Russia’s fall elections under the pretext of alleged links to Alexey Navalny’s “extremist” organizations. Despite the fact that according to the law, a candidate can only be banned from standing for election if their connections to an extremist group are proven in court, this has yet to happen in any of these cases.

In mid-July, Violetta Grudina was hospitalized by court order after Rospotrebnadzor (Russia’s consumer protection and human well-being agency) filed a complaint against her for allegedly breaking quarantine while recovering from the coronavirus. The authorities also launched a criminal case against her, claiming that she had violated public health regulations. If convicted, Grudina faces two years in prison.

On July 26, Grudina announced a hunger strike in protest of the hospital administration’s failure to deliver the necessary paperwork to election officials for her nomination for a spot on the ballot in the upcoming City Council elections in Murmansk. Grudina was released from involuntary hospitalization on August 2.

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