Team 29: Elections without Love

posted 5 Aug 2019, 21:39 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Aug 2019, 21:45 ]

26 July 2019

Hi, this is Tanya Torocheshnikova.

All week I’ve been following independent candidates for the Moscow City Duma as they fight for their rights and demand to be registered. Every one of them is beautiful in their own way, but my personal hero is Lyuba Sobol, a lawyer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, who first declared a hunger strike as a sign of protest, then went into the election commission office and stayed there the whole night, refusing to leave without a meeting with Ella Pamfilova. The denouement of the story rivals the drama of classic plays.

LYUBOV SOBOL, Independent candidate for deputy of the Moscow City Duma

ELLA PAMFILOVA, Chair of the Central Elections Commission



Russia, 2019. One week before a demonstration advocating the registration of independent candidates.

Act One
Sobol, along with other independent candidates, arrives for a meeting with Ella Pamfilova.

ELLA PAMFILOVA: No one is going to provide you with comfortable arrangements—this is a political fight. And besides, the demonstration’s effect on the decision to be made will be… ZERO!

Act Two
Four people, including Alexei Navalny, are arrested for calling on supporters to protest. Night-time searches are carried out at the homes of independent candidates. Sobol conducts a hunger strike at the center for signature collection. In the morning she is delivered a summons for interrogation.

SOBOL: I have an appellate hearing with the elections commission at 11. I’ll go to that first, and then to the interrogation.

SOURCES CLOSE TO THE KREMLIN: On the question of whether it is possible to permit the registration of opposition candidates, the town hall and the internal-political block of the Kremlin are united – the officials are convinced that it is not possible.

Act Three
Sobol brings an independent handwriting expert’s examination of signatures supporting her candidacy to the election commission’s office and demands that she be registered. She is refused.

SOBOL: I will continue my hunger strike in the Moscow Elections Commission building and demand a meeting with Central Elections Chair Ella Pamfilova. I’m not the least bit naïve about this – the refusal to register me was a political decision.

ELECTIONS COMMISSION: Come now, why are you being such a pessimist?

PAMFILOVA: remains silent.

Act Four
Sobol sits on the sofa. Evening comes on. The lights in the elections commission are turned off and the doors are closed. Sobol gives an interview from a ground-floor lavatory window.

Act Five
Night. Police enter the building and carry out Sobol along with the sofa.

ELECTIONS COMMISSION: Our security removed the sofa to shake off the parasites, bugs and such. They didn’t lay a finger on her. She was sitting on the sofa, and they removed it. And where the police sent her from there, we don’t know.

All that remains is for me to remind you to bring water, a charger, and some food when you go to a demonstration. If they arrest you – don’t panic, don’t resist, and don’t provoke police officers. You can find full instructions on how to conduct yourself—from the patrol wagon to signing protocols in the police department—here.

Support us, in order to enable us to write more memos and inform you about how to defend yourselves.

You can also support out friends at OVD-Info, which assists all those detained at demonstrations, and Mediazona, which will tell you about on-going court cases.

Translated by Mark Nuckols