One ballot in the country’s State Duma elections, which run from September 17 to 19, features three men called Boris Vishnevsky – all with the same hair, eyes and beard
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin is deliberately running lookalike candidates in upcoming Russian elections to try and confuse voters, reports say.
One ballot in the country’s State Duma elections features three men called Boris Vishnevsky – all with the same hair, eyes and beard.
But, according to the Washington Post, two of the men running in the parliamentary elections are fakes.
The paper said the candidates were created by rivals, with at least one associated with Putin’s United Russia party, t o try and gain votes.
The real Vishnevsky is an opposition candidate from the pro-democracy Yabloko party.
He said: “When I hear the words ‘Russian democracy’, I smile. It’s a sad smile, actually.
“A lot of people are really furious about this story. They realise they are being deceived.”
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Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
Candidates like the fake Vishnevskys are reportedly not uncommon in Russia, where names are often similar.
But these attempts are thought to be unique as they changed their names legally – and issued almost identical photographs.
If the plan is successful, unsuspecting voters will then vote for the wrong Vishnevsky – making it harder for the real man to win.
Small decoy parties often play a similar role in elections in Russia, siphoning off votes to factions that pose no threat to United Russia.
Putin has spent the last few months cracking down on opposition ahead of the vote, jailing politician Alexei Navalny in one high-profile incident.
Allies of the Kremlin critic urged Russians on Wednesday to vote for the Communist Party to hurt United Russia.
Navalny’s “smart voting” campaign is designed to consolidate the votes of those who oppose United Russia, which currently holds three-quarters of the seats in the lower house of parliament and dominates Russian political life.
The initiative is one of the few remaining levers for Navalny, who is serving two-and-a-half years in prison for alleged parole violations, which he says are trumped up.
His movement was branded “extremist” in the run-up to the September 17 to 19 vote, and a law signed by Putin in June barred members of such groups from running for office.
“Millions of people in Russia hate United Russia,” said Navalny ally Leonid Volkov in a video accompanying a list of candidates Navalny’s allies say have the best chance of defeating United Russia in different electoral districts.
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“Explain to everyone who isn’t satisfied with what is going on in the country that they need to go and vote in these elections.”
The bulk of the candidates Navalny’s allies support are from the Communist Party, Russia’s second most popular party.
Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, helped found United Russia but is not a member.
In the run-up to the vote, Putin approved higher salaries and one-off payments to military and law enforcement personnel.
He pledged similar measures for pensioners.
Kremlin critics say the measures are designed to boost support for United Russia. The Kremlin says the support measures have nothing to do with the vote.