Yabloko, one of the few anti-establishment parties in Russia with a national profile, have been barred from participating in the upcoming election for the St Petersburg city legislature. The St Petersburg Times reports:
The nominally independent St. Petersburg Election Commission expelled the party from the race on the grounds that 11.97 percent of the signatures presented to the commission do not meet the required standards. A total of 954 signatures have been declared invalid.
Yabloko, as you’d imagine, aren’t happy. Boris Vishnevsky, a Yabloko deputy points the finger:
I see the hand of Governor Valentina Matviyenko behind the situation. Clearly, she has had enough of Yabloko questioning her controversial decisions. The governor feels it is now time to terminate Yablokos access to the only venue for political discussions in town.
Probably Vishnevsky was trying to silence debate – this is the modern Russia, after all.
But I wonder whether a Yabloko operative did manage to shoot the party in the foot somehow by actually forging some of the signatures – thus presenting a golden opportunity for their political opponents to strike?
Or even, whether Yabloko were having difficulties raising the number of signatures needed to register for the election in the first place. (I think this latter option is unlikely, although I wouldn’t entirely discount it at this stage – the articles I’ve read don’t discuss whether Yabloko were scrambling to get enough signatures).
Either way, it reflects badly on Russian ‘democracy’.