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Judge Throws Out Testimony Backing Yabloko Candidates

Published: February 13, 2009 (Issue # 1448)


A judge at the Moskovsky District Court on Wednesday refused to accept testimony from twenty local residents whose signatures backing liberal candidates in the municipal elections scheduled for March 1 had been rejected as being forged or unverifiable.

The judge said that the citizens had no grounds to question the qualifications or judgment of the expert who had declared the signatures unverifiable or forged.

This outrageous decision has destroyed what little hope I had left for what remains of democratic principles and fair trials in Russia, said Tatyana Kondratkova, whose signature was declared false. A human being has fewer rights and gets less respect than the opinion of their signatures expert. Im bewildered. Ive now learnt through personal experience that everything we hear every day from the officials about their respect for the Russian Constitution is nothing but hot air.

Kondratkova and other residents whose testimonies were rejected are preparing an appeal to the City Court, and, if necessary, to the Constitutional Court.

Maxim Reznik, head of the St. Petersburg branch of the democratic party Yabloko said peoples rights are being blatantly and vigorously abused in the current election campaign.

To register for a municipal election, a candidate must provide several dozen signatures from supporters living in the district in which they plan to stand for election. The majority of Yabloko candidates have been denied registration as the result of state experts declaring their supporters signatures to be forgeries.

It only takes a word from an expert. There is no required proof or criteria for deeming a signature fake, so absolutely any signature can be declared unusable in this way, said Reznik.

Of 100 candidates put forward by the Yabloko party for the municipal elections, only 35 have been officially registered. In the meantime, only 0.8 percent of the pro-Kremlin United Russia partys candidates have been denied registration for the elections.

The only plausible explanation for the plight of our candidates is that the district election commissions must have received direct political orders from City Hall to take as many liberals out of the elections as possible, Reznik said. We have always been the biggest troublemakers, asking tough questions and protesting against corrupt decisions. The lawlessness that reigns in Russia allows officials to pursue their vendettas against political opponents.

Activists from the St. Petersburg branch of Yabloko are organizing a protest event on Saturday at 5 p.m. outside the Yunost cinema at Chernaya Rechka metro station to voice their outrage at a wide series of infringements of the rights of the democrat candidates in the current election campaign.

Democrat candidates have been experiencing difficulties in registering for local elections in recent years. Worse, they claim that they have been marginalized and now have to resort to street politics in order to be heard.

In the spring of 2008, Yabloko, the only major political party represented in the Legislative Assembly to oppose City Halls policies, was excluded from elections to the assembly amid claims that the local government was silencing its most vocal critic. No liberal candidates are currently represented in the city parliament.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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