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Navalny's Team Looks To Expand Ahead Of September Parliamentary Polls In Russia

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (leftL) and Leonid Volkov (file photo)
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (leftL) and Leonid Volkov (file photo)

Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's team has announced plans to open offices in 10 cities where it believes the ruling United Russia party is most vulnerable in elections that must be held by September 19.

Leonid Volkov, the coordinator of Navalny's network of teams, said in a statement on March 9 that expanding into the cities "is most likely to help take away mandates" from United Russia in the vote.

"A friendly young team, an opportunity to make Russia better, parcels [with food and other items] to preliminary detention centers [in case of incarceration] are included in the social package - in short, we have a dream job for you," he wryly added in the statement.

The 10 cities are Ulyanovsk, Orenburg, Astrakhan, Kirov, Vladimir, Ulan-Ude, Kursk, Chita, Petrozavodsk, Abakan.

"If you live in one of these 10 cities, understand all the risks and soberly calculate the strength of your resolve, understand Russian politics and want to become a part of Navalny's team...send a resume," Volkov said.

Navalny and his supporters have developed a "smart voting" system, which is aimed at undoing United Russia’s stranglehold on political power.

Under the system, voters can enter their address into a special app, which will then give them a list of the candidates deemed most likely to defeat their United Russia rivals regardless of their party affiliation.

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Volkov also said it was important to set up headquarters for a Navalny team in Makhachkala, the capital of the North Caucasus region of Daghestan, despite the fact that his colleague Ruslan Ablyakimov, who travelled to that city from Moscow to establish the headquarters last month was beaten by unknown individuals.

Volkov, who is currently residing in Lithuania for security reasons, also announced new vacancies for headquarters of Navalny's team in Moscow and several other cities.

Volkov's announcement comes while Navalny is incarcerated in a detention center in the Vladimir region.

He was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poison attack by what several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent in Siberia in August.

Navalny has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.

Last month, a Moscow court ruled that, while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case, which is widely considered to be politically motivated.

Navalny's 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time already served in detention.

More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny were detained across Russia during and after the January rallies. Many of the detained men and women were either fined or sent to jail for several days.

At least 90 were charged with criminal misdeeds and several have been fired by their employers.

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