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Russian State Gallery Tweets Navalny's Anti-Putin Video, Claims It Was Hacked

Opposition supporters take part in an unauthorized rally in central St. Petersburg on October 7.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny appeared to receive public support from an unexpected source this week -- Moscow's renowned State Tretyakov Gallery.

The gallery's official Twitter account on November 1 tweeted out Navalny's latest video announcing that he plans to sue Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration over what he calls an orchestrated nationwide effort to stymie his campaign for the March 2018 presidential election.

The video still accompanying the link featured a photoshopped image of Putin as a waiter carrying a pig's head on a tray -- a reference to an incident this week in which Navalny's campaign said the head of a pig was tied to the door of an Irkutsk office building where it plans to meet on November 4.

The tweet from one of Russia's most famous art galleries, which stated that the gallery "liked the video Vladimir Putin And The Pig's Head," triggered bemusement among Russian-language Twitter users.

"The Tretyakov Gallery knows what's up :)," one Twitter user wrote.

Referring to announcements by several individuals -- including TV personality and journalist Ksenia Sobhack -- that they intend to enter the Russian presidential race despite no realistic attempt at winning, another Twitter user wrote, "The Tretyakov Gallery announced that it will run for president."

The original tweet of the Navalny video was subsequently deleted, and the gallery later said on Twitter that its account had been "hacked." It said the video "has no relation whatsoever to the museum and its activities."

Navalny, who has riled Russia's ruling elite with his anticorruption investigations, is seeking to run in the election, which Putin -- who has yet to announce his candidacy -- is widely expected to enter and win.

Navalny has continued to campaign nationwide despite statements by officials that he is ineligible for the ballot due to a financial-crimes conviction that he says was fabricated as retribution for his political activism.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged in a statement in September that Russian authorities are "systematically" interfering with Navalny's bid for the Russian presidency, including with raids on his campaign offices and detentions of his volunteers that it called "arbitrary."

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    Carl Schreck

    Carl Schreck is an award-winning investigative journalist who serves as RFE/RL's enterprise editor. He has covered Russia and the former Soviet Union for more than 20 years, including a decade in Moscow. He has led investigations into corruption, cronyism, and disinformation campaigns in Russia and Central Asia, as well as on poisoning attacks against Kremlin opponents and assassinations of Iranian exiles in the West. Schreck joined RFE/RL in 2014.

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