09/08/2021, 10.22
RUSSIA
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Moscow, Putin's latest move: avatar candidates

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Two figures close to Putin's regime present themselves at the St. Petersburg elections with the same name and face of an opposition candidate: Boris Višnevskij. The original is a supporter of Aleksej Naval'nyj. The "fake" candidates are nothing new in Russia: the aim is to confuse the electorate.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Boris Vishnevsky, deputy of the city parliament of St. Petersburg, discovered on September 6 election posters with two avatar-candidates invented against him, in view of the upcoming elections on September 19. They are two people who, before submitting their candidacy, changed their names at the registry office, leaving only the patronymic: two more Boris Vishnevsky, with a hairdo and beard identical to the original. The real Višnevskij is a member of the liberal Yabloko party, in opposition to the Putin regime.

This is the latest stunt by Vladimir Putin's allies to avoid any surprise from possible "alternative" candidates, such as the real Vishnevsky, a columnist and MP with a long and esteemed political career in the democratic camp. Besides the real Višnevskij (Boris Lazarevič), the Electoral Commission also registered a Boris Ivanovič (who on his identity card is actually Viktor Bykov) and a Boris Gennadevič (real name Aleksej Šmelev).

At the beginning of August, the Višnevskij-Bykov also asked the Commission to eliminate the real Višnevskij, and not because of homonymy caused by him, but with the accusation of "extremism" for some of his public statements of solidarity with the imprisoned opponent Aleksej Naval'nyj. Not having obtained satisfaction, he presented his candidacy-avatar in the list of the "Green Alternative", a container of ecological orientation made up of supporters of United Russia, Putin's party.

In the constituency of the various Vishnevskys (one of the most prestigious, that of the Admiralty of St. Petersburg) the leading candidate is actually a prominent member of United Russia, Sergei Solov'ev, to whom the competition of the authentic Vishnevsky could create many problems.

This is not an absolute novelty: the spoiler-candidates, as they are called in Russia, have been presented since the end of the last century, according to an idea of the "techno-politician" Aleksej Košmarov, who in turn had given himself a new name: Trubetskoj. The novelty lies in the level of the scam, which is now applied to a very well-known character (the real Višnevskij is one of the most prestigious signatures of the Novaja Gazeta). The calculation is that in any case the triplication of the name may lead many voters to misunderstanding and error in voting.

Needless to say, the two fake Vishnevskys are unknown to the electoral public, having been "born at the registry office" only last June. Avatar Ivanovič presented on his ballot a birthplace, the village of Ponomarevo in the Vologda region, which in 2010 had only five inhabitants: in the year of birth he indicated (1962) there could have been at most a hundred, without any of them bearing the surname Višnevskij.

 

On the other hand, the avatar Gennadevich was born on the same day as Ivanovich: April 17, 1962, in the same village north of Vologda, without any relative with the same surname, and now he appears on the United Russia list after a dignified (and only virtual) administrative career. The data of the two, moreover, were deleted from official sites after the journalistic revelations.

The colleagues of the real Višnevskij at Novaja Gazeta tried to interview the two avatars, who only answered to their authentic name, and then turned off their cell phones as soon as they realized who was looking for them. However, the journalists' investigations discovered that the Višnevskij-Bykov is actually one of the closest collaborators of the Putin candidate Solov'ev.  To Bykov is registered the Mercedes E 400 4matic with which Solov'ev moves around the city. The Putinan avatar had presented himself under his real name in the 2016 elections, showing a youthful quiff and no beard (photo 2).

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