With the presidential elections exactly five months away, Russia’s Central Elections Commission has made its position clear: opposition activist Alexei Navalny will be out of the running.
Although Navalny has announced his candidacy and is actively campaigning across Russia, his criminal record in a case widely seen as politically motivated bars him from public office.
“He can run for president after a 10-year period plus five months — somewhere in 2028,” commission chairwoman Ella Pamfilova was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency Tuesday.
The New Times outlet quoted sources as saying on Wednesday that journalist and socialite Ksenia Sobchak will run in Navalny’s place as a Kremlin-backed spoiler candidate, in exchange for access to state-controlled television.
Asked about Navalny’s candidacy on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the commission chief’s words leave “nothing to discuss” in the matter. “There’s simply no topic,” he told reporters.
Peskov continues a longstanding Kremlin tradition of dealing with Navalny by never mentioning his name. Here are some other examples:
— Weeks after Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption in a documentary which went viral, Medvedev compared the investigation to “compote,” calling its creator “that character you’re referring to.”