Ahead of Sunday’s nationwide regional elections, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is urging voters dissatisfied with the status quo to ignore their ideological beliefs and focus solely on casting the ruling United Russia party out of power.

But in the Russian capital, voters heading to the polls to select deputies for the Moscow city council won’t be able to tell which candidates are backed by United Russia simply by looking at the ballot.


That’s because for the first time since the party’s formation in 2001, a year after Vladimir Putin was first elected president, United Russia hasn’t nominated a single candidate for the City Duma elections. Instead, United Russia’s candidates are presenting themselves as independent of any party.

“Today, all the actions and initiatives of United Russia have only one result: an increase in the protest mood in the country,” the pro-Kremlin Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid wrote last month, calling the party “toxic.”