SPS Under Attack

The Union of Right Forces (SPS) is protesting vehemently about what they call a “smear campaign” by the authorities to discredit the political party ahead of State Duma elections. Interfax reported that in recent days, a significant number of candidates dropped off the party’s roster, and SPS sees this as no coincidence.

One of the party leaders, Boris Nemtsov, said that authorities “were making great effort so that a number of candidates would refuse to take part in the election and withdraw from the party.”

According to an SPS statement:

“Attempts are being made to bribe the SPS representatives with money and high-ranking posts, at the same time threats are being made to deprive them of everything and send into prison, criminal cases are being opened.”

Russia’s Central Electoral Commission has said that if 25% of a party’s candidates leave a party list, the entire party could be pulled from the election.

Nemstov noted that the current pressure is much greater than earlier efforts:

“It can be proven by the fact that over 15 million editions of the SPS promotion newspaper were seized in many regions of the country…

“Leaflets saying that all campaigners of the party are HIV-infected or suffer from AIDS, and a fake address in English to voters on my behalf are being distributed around the country; pro-Kremlin youth organizations are making hooligan provocative sorties against our party everywhere.”

Nikita Belykh, the SPS chairman added:

“They want us to stop fighting and withdraw from the election race. They want to surrender and destroy us as an independent political force, as the party, as the team.”

The SPS has been a vocal critic of the presidential administration, and faces a difficult battle to reach the 7% threshold of the vote required for parliamentary representation. It has pledged to join the upcoming “Dissenter’s Marches” in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The SPS electoral slogans are: “No to the personality cult! No to flunkeyism! No to corruption!” The party had called the Duma elections a “referendum on return to the Soviet Union.”