Update on Navalny’s campaign in June

"The anti-corruption campaign managed to break the wall of censorship. Regional coverage of protests is unprecedented. Kremlin is going crazy and trying to stop us with police lawlessness, because other means don't work."

After a series of rallies on June 12 Alexey Navalny was imprisoned for 25 days, but the campaign didn’t stop without him. Now there are 60 acting offices all over the country. Two were recently opened in Bratsk and Irkutsk - cities where Dmitry Medvedev and Yuri Chaika started their carriers.

Campaign budget can only cover 77 headquarters in big cities, but it didn’t stop activists in small towns. They took initiative and managed to open offices without any help. The usual headquarters are set up and fully financed by the head office. The “people’s headquarters” have to survive on their own, head office can only provide them with free campaign materials. There are 4 such offices already operating and 5 more are expected to open soon.

During the time Navalny was in prison his team started the campaign “ImForNavalny” and organized a weekend of campaigning on July 8-9. Kremlin obviously didn’t like this idea and on June 5 police raids on headquarters have started. Officials have tried to charge campaign workers with “illegal campaigning.”

In Novosibirsk police probably thought that there will be no one inside the office at night and came without any warrant, but, what a bad luck, stumbled upon a group of volunteers. Since 5 am officers have been saying that “investigation team is on its way”, but by 6 pm they didn’t manage to find any judge to support them, tried to open the door with the picklock(!!!), and finally had to use the old fashioned call bombing as an excuse for breaking in and seizing part of the freshly printed newspaper circulation.

Police justify their actions with the Article 5.10 of the Criminal Code “Illegal preliminary campaigning”. But the law actually says that the election starts 90-100 days before the voting day and only from this moment the electoral laws start to apply. Prior to the appointment of elections, there are no restrictions on campaigning. After the appointment of elections agitation through printed materials is possible with certain restrictions (payment must be made only from a special electoral account, all materials must be provided in advance to the electoral commission).

Despite the police efforts, people in 60 cities went in the streets to campaign for Navalny this weekend. There were 300 campaign points only in Moscow, where police found "a hidden form of the collective action" in distribution of campaign materials. More than 100 activists across the country were detained. Red balloons with Navalny’s name on it were like a red flag to a bull for the police, people holding it had 100% chance to end up in one of the police cars. One of the volunteers after being detained was forced to take off his shirt with the campaign symbolics. Another was beaten up and had to be hospitalized.

On July 7 Alexey Navalny was released. Here is his comment on the campaign progress: “As far as I can see the situation in this 25 days has changed. The Kremlin stopped pretending that our countrywide headquarters are just a joke for them. … I’m very pleased. The headquarters is working great even without me. Only 4 month of anti-corruption campaign managed to break the wall of censorship. Regional coverage of protests is unprecedented. Kremlin is going crazy and is trying to stop us with police lawlessness, because other means don't work. In the our side everything is working just great. We persuade and change people’s minds.”