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Russian 'Flash Mob' Protests Candidates Not Being Registered

SAMARA, Russia -- A "flash mob" of some 200 people gathered in front of the regional governor's office in the western Russian city of Samara to protest the disallowing of some candidates to register for upcoming elections, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Members of the local branch of the Yabloko party, the Communist Party, a bloc of parties led by Mikhail Matveyev, and human rights activists took part in the flash mob on September 6.

Police tried to disperse the protesters as they arrived at Samara's Glory Square. Police lined the square, barring protesters entry under the pretext that repairs were being made.

Protesters then moved to the Samara Oblast governor's office at the nearby Samara Square.

The demonstration was organized after Samara Oblast's Election Commission announced that four independent candidates would not be allowed to register as candidates for the October 10 mayoral elections.

Three of the candidates -- Matveyev; Svetlana Peunova, leader of the unregistered party Volya (Will); and Aleksei Ofitserov, a city-council member for the opposition A Just Russia party -- were not allowed to register as candidates because they did not have valid "pan-Russia passports."

Oleg Kazachek, a member of Samara's Election Commission, said that "the international passports had expired, so their pan-Russian passports were not valid."

Russian citizens carry two passports, one for inside Russia and one international.

Matveyev, a leader of an opposition bloc that bears his name, told RFE/RL that "the point of the protest is to bring the average resident of Samara's attention to the fact that members of the election commission refused to register independent candidates for elections for mayor and as deputies to Samara's legislative assembly."