Independent candidates officially denied registration for Moscow City Duma elections

On July 16, Moscow Election Commission announced that it will not allow most independent self-nominated candidates to participate in the Moscow City Duma elections, which will take place on September 8. Among those whose registration was denied are Anti-Corruption Foundation lawyers Lyubov Sobol and Ivan Zhdanov, municipal deputies Ilya Yashin, Konstantin Yankauskas and Yulia Galyamina and prominent opposition politicians Dmitry and Gennady Gudkov.

Only six independent candidates were officially registered. However, three of them will run in the same electoral district and compete against each other, making it easier for a pro-government candidate to win there.

The official reason for the denial of registration is high reject rate of signatures submitted by the candidates. However, the signature validation procedure is very intransparent and unreliable. Many people whose signatures were ruled invalid have recorded videos confirming that they are real and do indeed support their respective candidates. The candidates believe that the decision to deny their registration was politically motivated and intend to appeal against the decision of the election commission in courts. Lyubov Sobol embarked on a hunger strike on July 13 and intends to continue it until she is admitted to the elections.

Since July 14, protest rallies take place every day in Moscow. Protesters demand registration of all independent candidates and resignation of the head of Moscow Election Commission Valentin Gorbunov and Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin. The first protest in front of the election commission was violently suppressed by the police, but the two following ones on Trubnaya Square went peacefully. Supporters of independent candidates intend to continue gathering on Trubnaya Square every evening until their demands are fulfilled. A large protest march will also take place on Sakharova Avenue on July 20.