It is a maxim that usually works with the precision of a Swiss watch: divide and conquer, chop a sword until it ends up turned into a pile of hardware. In Putin’s Russia, this principle has found an almost comical expression – for what it portrays, we speak of a somewhat bitter grace – in the campaign for the elections to the regional parliament in Saint Petersburg, to be held on September 19. One of your candidates, Boris Vishnevsky, has denounced the trick with which they intend to boycott his candidacy. A practice that is actually not uncommon. His alleged rivals – believed to be Víktor Bikov and Alexei Shmelev– their names have been changed and their appearance has changed
to look as much like him as possible. As the reader imagines, they have not done it with noble ends or captives of the love for democracy. “This is a fraud,” Vishnevsky denounced, in statements to AFP. These people participate in elections not to be elected, but to confuse voters.
The truth is that this story began months ago. The newspaper ‘The Moscow Times’ reported last July that Vichnevsky, 65, a politician who militates in the Yábloko formation – a Russian party with a liberal ideology that promotes the cause of human rights, environmentalism and integration in the European Union-, he had some somewhat unexpected competitors. At least two people with the same name had registered their candidacy for the parliament elections of the beautiful city that Peter the Great founded in the 18th century. The next hit came this week. With the electoral poster, the candidate was able to know the appearance of his opponents. His surprise must have been great when he discovered that it was more of the registration form for a copycat contest. His rivals were practically the same as him: with a determined bald head, a beard where gray hair ran freely, and brown eyes. Three clones. Only the tie, the posture and the date of birth, which appears below the photographs, made it clear that they were different people.
No respect for the voters
«I knew a little about one of the homonyms. It’s Victor Bikov, a member of United russia. Before he became ‘Boris Vichnevsky’ he did not have a beard, and his photo can be found on the party’s website, “denounced the Yáklobo candidate, outraged by the outrage allegedly committed by a member of Putin’s party. His rival would have changed his appearance in a remarkable way. As the newspaper ‘The Guardian’ remarked, the photograph of Bikov that appears on the website of the Saint Petersburg government shows a very different man from the one on the electoral poster: a guy with thick, blond hair and apparently blue eyes. younger than the liberal politician who would have usurped name and face to steal a few ballots. “It is making fun of the voters,” he lamented Ella Pamfilova, director of the Russian Electoral Commission. We will have to wait to know the outcome. It should not be done to remember that Human Rights Watch denounced in 2019 the difficulties of the opponents in the former country of the Soviets.