November 01, 2013

Navalny's Near Miss

Alexei Navalny, the opposition politician, the person whose name President Putin never utters, nearly became mayor of Moscow. Well, in any event, he nearly passed to the second round of voting against incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. He fell just 1.7 percent short, while independent observers estimated that dishonest voting practices delivered 3-4 percent of votes to Sobyanin.

Navalny’s election campaign may well go into the history books of PR, advertising and political activism. And just in the history books more generally. For Navalny was hemmed in on all sides. He was not allowed to advertise on Moscow city billboards. All the transport companies refused to work with him, as did the television and radio channels. And yet he managed to increase in popularity over the course of July and August – vacation months in the capital.

Banners with Navalny’s name appeared on apartment building balconies, and the poor dvorniki were ordered to cut them down, dangling themselves from the upper stories of their buildings.

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