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Vlogger In Russia Allegedly Offers Money To Vote 'For Whom I Tell You'


Aleksandr Tretyakov has about 23,000 Instagram followers. He did not respond to numerous written requests for comment on this story.

A popular Instagram vlogger from Russia's northwestern Komi region, Aleksandr Tretyakov (@tretyakov034), posted a video on September 9 in which he offered to "personally" pay 500 rubles (about $7) to anyone over the age of 18 who is registered in Komi.

The 30-second video, which is no longer accessible but which was archived by the local news channel Novaya Respublika, specifies in a subtitle: "You will simply have to vote for whom I tell you to vote for."

Another subtitle urges people to bring friends with them, promising 500 rubles for each of them as well.

The video does not specify for whom Tretyakov wanted followers to cast their ballots.

Russians go to the polls September 17-19 to elect a new State Duma and regional legislatures and governors. Komi is not holding regional elections this year.

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The elections come as the ruling United Russia party is polling at historically low levels of support. The government has carried out a wide-ranging crackdown against independent candidates, many of whom were disqualified, jailed, or driven out of the country.

Analysts believe the administration of President Vladimir Putin would like to secure a constitutional majority of two-thirds of the Duma's 450 seats for United Russia to pave the way for the presidential election in 2024. Under constitutional amendments pushed through the Duma earlier this year, Putin would be eligible to seek a fifth and sixth term as president and could remain in the Kremlin until 2036.

Komi regional election commission member and lawyer Viktor Vorobyov has asked the Komi Interior Minister Andrei Sitsky to look into whether the video violates the law against buying votes or violates the electoral rights of any candidates.

In comments to RFE/RL's North.Realities, Vorobyov said it would be up to prosecutors to determine whether the video violated the law and whether it was an administrative or a criminal violation.

"Unfortunately, the boundary between the criminal and the administrative is quite poorly defined and the concept of 'buying votes' can be variously interpreted," he said. "Giving away free goods, like soap, could be seen as 'buying votes.' But in this case, in my opinion, we are talking about a criminal case -- money in exchange for a vote."

The penalty for criminal vote-buying is a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($4,150) or up to five years in prison.

Vorobyov filed his request on September 10 and has not received a response.

Tretyakov, who has about 23,000 Instagram followers, did not respond to numerous written requests for comment on this story.

RFE/RL senior correspondent Robert Coalson contributed to this report.
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