: Moscow Times: Crisis in Russian opposition as two withdraw from election primaries

12:34 Apr. 14, 2016

Moscow Times: Crisis in Russian opposition as two withdraw from election primaries

Ilya Yashin takes part in a march to commemorate the 2015 slaying of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 27, 2016 (AP Photo)

Leaders of Russia opposirion announce they their withdrawal from election primaries

Two of Russia's leading opposition politicians announced Wednesday 13 April their withdrawal from election primaries being organised by the PARNAS democratic coalition.

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Ivan Zhdanov, Head of Law at Alexey Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), and Ilya Yashin, PARNAS political party deputy chairman, announced they would not be standing within the space of 24 hours.

Their reaction comes after PARNAS leader, Mikhail Kasyanov, announced his refusal to withdraw from the list of proposed candidates, despite recent involvement in a well-publicised scandal.

Kasyanov was the only politician to be included on the list of potential candidates since last December when the coalition was formed.

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"I think that Kasyanov's position destroys voters' trust and scraps us from the ability to be an effective opposition coalition," Yashin said.

Zhdanov's cited similar reasons to Yashin, but added that he was too busy with other political projects.

"The list would have been much more respectable if its leader was elected at primaries. Openness is the core value of the opposition," Zhdanov told The Moscow Times. He stressed that the withdrawal was his personal decision and that he hadn't heard of anybody else planning to quit their candidacy.

The decision to give Kasyanov the privilege of heading the list of candidates had been controversial. The coalition was criticised for being non-democratic and for giving the Kremlin a chance to concentrate anti-opposition smears on a single figure.

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That chance was used when state-controlled television channel NTV aired grainy video footage of Mikhail Kasyanov and a colleague, Natalia Pelevina, in bed together. They are heard criticizing their opposition colleagues.

"Given such circumstances, we would be answering idiotic questions about who slept with whom and who called someone names in bed throughout the course of the whole [State Duma election] campaign," Yashin explained.

Kasyanov told KommersantFM radio that he saw no problems with Yashin's choice. "It's his decision and he has the right for any decision and it's his opinion," he said.

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