Blocked In All Directions, Kasparov Drops Presidential Bid

Kasparov speaking - from Kasparov.ruThe Central Electoral Commission (CEC) has prevented Garry Kasparov from taking part in upcoming presidential elections. Denis Bilunov, the executive director of Kasparov’s party, the United Civil Front, told Sobkor®ru that the former chess champion’s campaign was blocked from the start.

According to Russian law, a potential candidate must gather at least 500 supporters (an “initiative group”) in one place, gather their signatures, and announce his or her candidacy in their presence. Kasparov had intended to do just that, and had already booked an appropriate venue. Shortly before the meeting was to take place, the management revoked their contract, citing technical reasons. Bilunov believes the actual reason was administrative pressure, noting that one initiative group had already been held in the facility on the 9th, and another was scheduled for the 14th. Opposition groups have frequently encountered these situations, where a private venue receives a threat from above, and backs out of previous agreements.

Bilunov asked the CEC to note Kasparov’s special situation, and proposed two possible solutions. The first was for Vladimir Churov, the director of the CEC, to step in and protect landlords from political threats to their business. The second was to allow the United Civil Front to relocate their initiative group. Both asks were denied, and the activists were told that a change of venue requires a five-day notice. Unfortunately, the last day to begin a presidential campaign is December 17th, less than 5 days away.

Left with no legal means to announce his candidacy, Garry Kasparov has opted to rescind his name from the roster. As an act of protest, and to demonstrate his support, the leader of the Other Russia coalition will continue campaigning unofficially. He has already begun collecting signatures from around the country, and is raising grassroots support.

In his words, “it is impossibly to play fairly under the Kremlin’s rules.”

On September 30th, Kasparov was chosen as the single opposition presidential candidate from the Other Russia coalition.