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Navalny’s strategic voting initiative releases endorsements, favoring Russia’s Communist Party

Source: Meduza

Opposition politician Alexey Navalny remains imprisoned and his movement is now in tatters, but core members of his team, now working abroad in exile, have released recommendations to voters through their Smart Vote initiative to coordinate support for the candidates deemed likeliest to defeat United Russia’s nominees in upcoming elections. Voting begins on Friday and ends on Sunday. At stake: Russia’s State Duma and regional contests across the country.

The single group with the most candidates to win Smart Vote’s support is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) with 137 endorsements. Team Navalny is also underwriting 48 Just Russia candidates, 20 Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) nominees, 10 Yabloko candidates, five nominees from the new party “New People,” two Greens, one Party of Growth candidate, one “Communists of Russia” nominee, and a single self-nominated candidate.

When voting for party-list proportional representation (which determines half of the State Duma’s 450 seats), Smart Vote calls on participants to vote for any party but United Russia. 

Navalny’s associates stated previously that they would release Smart Vote’s endorsements a few days before Russia’s elections, as soon as candidates are legally prohibited from withdrawing from their races. Last week, some people registered with Smart Vote started receiving phony messages made to look like Smart Vote’s endorsements, urging them to support certain candidates. Team Navalny says it had nothing to do with these emails.

For the past several weeks, Russia’s federal authorities have endeavored to block Russians’ access to Smart Vote, resorting to sophisticated online censorship methods that have disabled updates on Navalny’s mobile app for many users. Russia’s censor, RKN, has also threatened multiple Internet giants with felony prosecution, arguing that disseminating Smart Vote’s content amounts to foreign election interference and spreading supposed extremism.

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