The Russian government summoned energy companies last week to give it advance notice about developments that could influence public opinion in the period up to May next year, when President Vladimir Putin’s term ends. The meeting suggests that Russia’s government has enlisted firms to help plan its public relations strategy ahead of the presidential election, due to take place in March 2018 with a second round if needed the following month. Most Kremlin-watchers expect Putin to seek another term, and polls suggest virtually no danger that he could lose: despite three years of difficult economic times, his approval rating hovers around 85 percent. But as in past Russian elections where the overall outcome was in little doubt, the authorities are expected to carefully manage the campaign, seeking a strong mandate with high turnout. Putin’s last presidential election in 2012 was accompanied by opposition protests, and turnout at parliamentary elections last year hit a record low of 48 percent.
Articles about voting issues in the Russian Federation.
Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s most dogged political opponent, has vowed to force the Kremlin to allow him to run in next year’s presidential elections, in a move that will test the Russian leader’s confidence in his ability to hold on to power. The lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner said his latest criminal conviction, which under Russian law bars him from running for public office, could not prevent his presidential bid. “We will try to grow support in society until the Kremlin understands that it is necessary to admit me to the elections and the consequences of not admitting me will be even worse,” Mr Navalny said in his first interview since he was convicted of embezzlement last week. “This is a political campaign for a change of power.” Even Mr Putin’s critics think it unlikely Mr Navalny would pose a serious threat, given the president’s support ratings of about 80 per cent. But observers believe the way the Kremlin deals with the opposition politician will reflect how safe the Russian leader feels.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused the Kremlin of trying to block him from running in next year’s presidential election after a court on Wednesday found him guilty of embezzlement. Navalny, who has made a name for himself exposing official corruption, said he would still stand for president, but it was not immediately clear if that was legally possible. The court, in the provincial city of Kirov, found Navalny guilty of embezzlement in relation to a timber firm called Kirovles, and gave him a five-year suspended prison sentence. Navalny denies wrongdoing. “What we are seeing now is a sort of telegram sent from the Kremlin, saying that they believe that I, my team, and the people whose views I voice, are too dangerous to allow us to take part in the election campaign,” Navalny said.
The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been found guilty at a retrial of embezzlement and given a five-year suspended prison sentence, putting his proposed presidential run in 2018 in doubt. Election rules say candidates cannot have felony convictions, but the anti-corruption activist vowed to appeal and said he would continue his campaign “no matter what happens in court”. “What we saw was a telegram from the Kremlin saying that they consider me, my team and those people whose views I express too dangerous to allow us into the electoral race,” Navalny said in the courtroom after the verdict. “This verdict will be overturned. I have the full right under the constitution to participate in elections, and I will do so. I will continue to represent the interests of people who want Russia to be a normal, honest, not corrupt country.”
Alexei Navalny has recorded another success. On Sunday, in several proceedings, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg condemned Russia for the arbitrary arrest of the Russian opposition politician. The judges ruled that Navalny had been arrested without sufficient justification at peaceful demonstrations and rallies in Moscow seven times between 2012 and 2014, and in some instances held for many hours. Navalny’s rights to the freedom of protest and expression as well as his right to freedom had been repeatedly violated, they said. The judges also ruled that there had been a violation of his right to a fair trial, as the Russian courts had dismissed all Navalny’s objections to the arrests. The court awarded the complainant damages of 64,000 euros.
Russia violated the rights of opposition politician and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny by breaking up demonstrations and detaining him on seven occasions between 2012 and 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday. Navalny, who has said he plans to run as a challenger to the Kremlin candidate in a presidential election next year, rose to prominence in 2012 as one of the leaders of the biggest protest movement of President Vladimir Putin’s 17-year rule. The protests, sparked by allegations of vote-rigging, prompted a crackdown by law enforcement. The court in Strasbourg said the treatment of Navalny had been meant to sent a message to other Russians.
Russia: Three cyber arrests, one suspicious death, and a new chapter in the US election hack | Quartz
In the eerie world of international espionage, nothing of late has topped the official US accusation that Russian president Vladimir Putin plotted to put US president Donald Trump in power. Now, the tale has become even more salacious with the reported arrest of three Russian cyber experts, one of whom was perp-walked out of a meeting with a bag over his head, and the suspicious death of a former KGB general. Russia experts say the episode suggests a possible purge related to the US election hack. In a twist of Kremlinology, others say Putin may only be pretending to have arrested and killed cyber operatives. Or, say still others, neither observation may be true. “Can we really trust Russian news?” asks Dave Aitel, a former analyst with the US National Security Agency, and now CEO of Immunity, a cyber intrusion protection firm. The story of the arrests appears to have broken at the Russian newspaper Kommersant on Jan. 25. The paper reported (link in Russian) the arrests of Sergei Mikhailov, who heads the Center for Information Security, an arm of the Russian intelligence agency known by the acronym FSB; and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab, the computer security company.
A Kremlin spokesman is blasting U.S. intelligence reports claiming Russia is behind the election hacking as “ridiculous” and branding an unverified memo connecting Donald Trump with Moscow as “pulp fiction.” In a sit-down interview Thursday with NBC News, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov forcefully denied Russia had tried to influence the presidential election in an effort to help Trump win the White House. The report “is a ridiculous thing, nothing else … it does not contain any proofs, any evidence,” Peskov said.
The Kremlin says U.S. intelligence agency allegations it ran an influence campaign to help President-elect Donald Trump win the White House are false. But if U.S. spies are right, Moscow may wish it hadn’t bothered to meddle in the first place. The belief, widely held in the West, that the Kremlin helped discredit Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by orchestrating embarrassing media leaks, has relegated U.S.-Russia relations to a post-Cold War low and stoked fears Russia will try to subvert French and German elections this year. And true or not, the bipartisan view that Russia tried to help Trump, supported by a classified U.S. intelligence report, may make it harder, not easier, for Trump to make common cause with President Vladimir Putin, something both men say they want. In the latest wrinkle, U.S. officials said on Tuesday that Trump has been presented with claims that Russia had compromising information about him. The accusations are uncorroborated and denied by the Kremlin.
The Kremlin has hit back at a US intelligence report blaming Russia for interference in the presidential election, describing the claims as part of a political witch-hunt. “These are baseless allegations substantiated with nothing, done on a rather amateurish, emotional level,” Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists on Monday. “We still don’t know what data is really being used by those who present such unfounded accusations.” US intelligence agencies released the joint report on Friday, a day after a Senate armed forces committee hearing on foreign cyberthreats, convened over fears of Moscow’s interference in the election. The report assessed that the Russian president had ordered a multifaceted campaign to influence the election, with a clear preference for a Donald Trump victory. “We are growing rather tired of these accusations. It is becoming a full-on witch-hunt,” Peskov said, in an echo of Trump’s own assessment and disparagement of the US intelligence agencies.