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Five Reasons Why Russians Must Support Navalny’s Smart Voting Call – OpEd

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There are five compelling reasons why Russians who support democracy and oppose the Putin dictatorship should follow Aleksey Navalny’s call for smart voting, all of which combine to ensure that the Kremlin pays a high price for the shameful way it has treated him and the Russian people, Aleksandr Skobov says.

Smart voting is opposed by some because under current conditions it will not bring victory to opposition parties and candidates in the election, the Russian commentator continues. In fact, no one who backs the idea expects that although there is some hope that it will eliminate or at least expose the most obscurantist Putinists (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=612F3BFA2B56C).

The first reason to follow the procedures of smart voting, Skobov says, is to force the regime to act in ways that will “delegitimize the Duma, which the Kremlin will form by means of falsifications and thus cause a political crisis.”

The second reason is to make it more difficult for the powers that be to extinguish the political opposition by showing that the opposition can come together on this pattern of voting at least. That in and of itself will serve to restrain the Kremlin from some of its more hyperbolically reactionary steps.

The third reason, Skobov continues, is to support Navalny not only as an individual victim of repression but as a politician who has worked to “free society from it sown conformist and submissiveness.” Given how he has been treated, he deserves to be backed in any way possible “for his freedom and ours.”

The fourth reason is to show the powers that be that ever more Russians are now following his lead. They will be able to track that and that too will affect those who back Putin only for careerist reasons – the overwhelming majority in the Duma – and who will recognize they need to separate themselves from the real fascists.

And the fifth reason is to set the stage for protests against the falsification of the elections that is certain to happen. If Putin opponents pay close attention to whom they vote for, they will recognize more easily just how much the Kremlin has stolen this election too from the Russian people.

For all these reasons, Skobov argues, no one should dismiss smart voting just because it won’t give a quick solution to the challenges before them. Instead, everyone should remember that it is a critical next step that will ultimately lead to such outcomes. That is why the Kremlin is so worried about the idea even now.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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