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MP: Very surprising if Boris Nadezhdin allowed to run in Russia's election

Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform).
Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform). Source: Riigikogu Press Service/Erik Peinar

It would be very surprising if former politician Boris Nadezhdin is allowed to run against President Vladimir Putin in the upcoming elections in Russia in March, said Marko Mihkelson (Reform), chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Nadezhdin, a Russian opposition politician who has spoken out against the war in Ukraine, collected the necessary 100,000 signatures of support to enter the race, RFE/RL reported on Tuesday.

Mihkelson said it was surprising that he gathered support so quickly as intimidation is high.

"In the Duma [Russian parliament], a law is being drafted in which any demonstration against Putin, against Russia, against the war, can lead to confiscation of your property. It is an interesting development, but I would be very surprised if Nadezhdin is eventually allowed to stand for election," the chairman said on Tuesday.

He noted that 60-year-old Nadezhdin is not an unknown quantity to Russians, as he has appeared on television for many years.

Mihkelson said the former MP embodies the opposition in some sense, and this is why several other anti-Putin politicians have already backed him.

"Nadezhdin has been involved in Russian politics since the 1990s, having served in various political parties, once even as a member of the Duma. He has also been close to slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. So to some extent, he certainly embodies this opposition figure. After all, in Russia, politics as such has essentially ceased to exist, and even more so politics opposed to Putin or the regime. Anyone who has even attempted to speak out independently in this respect has either been killed, like Nemtsov, or driven out of the country, like [Gary] Kasparov and [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky, or imprisoned, like [Alexei] Navalny," Mihkelson said.

The Estonian MP said in the case of the upcoming election in Russia, a question arises as to how the Western countries feel about the reelection of "a war criminal".

"This is a good question, a question exactly as was the case with the Belarus elections, whether there is also a desire to raise the question of whether we still recognize these elections as elections," he said.

Nadezhdin is running for the center-right Civic Initiative party. He describes himself as "a physicist, entrepreneur, lawyer and politician" and someone who wants to lift Russia out of "the rut of authoritarianism and militarization," the Moscow Times wrote.

The Times of London on Tuesday quoted Nadezhdin as saying he had "already collected 100,000 signatures but that many of them were illegible or otherwise flawed". He was calling for more support from Russia's region.

The newspaper said large queues formed in Moscow, St Petersburg and other big cities at the weekend as people queued to register their support.

However, even if Nadezhdin manages to collect the signatures, it is far from certain that he will be allowed to stand, The Times wrote.

The election will take place in March.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Ringvaade, interview by Marko Reikop

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