Navalny’s associate Oleg Stepanov intends to achieve the opening of an electoral account through the court. Earlier, he was refused, citing the law prohibiting extremists from being elected. This was the first application of the law
The team of the former head of the Moscow headquarters of Navalny (recognized as a foreign agent and an extremist organization) Oleg Stepanov appealed to the Moscow City Court against the refusal of the election commission to open a special election account and appoint a financial commissioner, Stepanov’s chief of staff Alexander Psarev told RBC.
The district commission referred to the fact that citizens in respect of whom the decision on their cooperation with extremist organizations has entered into force (Part 8.1-8.4 of Article 4 of the law On the Elections of Deputies of the State Duma) cannot participate in the elections. Without an electoral account, a candidate cannot start collecting signatures for nomination to the State Duma.
The refusal of the election commission violates Stepanov’s right to free elections, pre-election campaigning and is “unfounded and illegal,” according to an administrative lawsuit published in the oppositionist’s Telegram channel.
The lawsuit notes that the decision to recognize Navalny’s headquarters as extremist organizations has not yet entered into legal force, so it cannot be the basis for a ban. Earlier, the Moscow City Court recognized the FBK and the headquarters of Alexey Navalny as extremist (both organizations were recognized as foreign agents). In addition, the opposition leader’s team believes that, in accordance with the electoral legislation, the district commission does not have the authority to refuse to open an account, i.e., the commission is obliged to issue it within three days, the lawsuit says.
Refusal at the nomination stage is a precedent, usually candidates are refused at the moment of registration, when the commission is already studying the documents, says Roman Smirnov, president of the Association of Political Lawyers. He adds that there is no practice under the law banning extremists from being elected yet, so it is unclear at what stage the information from other candidates will be checked. According to Smirnov, it is worth going to court to challenge procedural violations, but the motivation for refusing to open an account is likely to become the motivation for refusing registration later.
In early June, Vladimir Putin signed a law banning those involved in extremist and terrorist organizations from being elected. According to the new law, the leaders of such organizations cannot apply for any elected positions within five years from the date of the court’s decision on the recognition of the association as extremist into legal force, and ordinary employees and those involved-for three years.
Oleg Stepanov announced his intention to run for the State Duma in May. The former chief of staff in Moscow has been under house arrest since January 2021. He became a defendant in the “sanitary case” along with nine other defendants, including ” Lyubov Sobol, Oleg Navalny, Konstantin Yankauskas. According to investigators, Stepanov called for participation in illegal protests, people with coronavirus came there, which created a threat of mass infection.