Russia needs to amend the law on ‘foreign agents’ to prevent their close relatives from participating in elections, according to the Avanti business association, which noted the need to stop a “Belarusian scenario.”
The proposition aims to prevent the wife of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, from participating in upcoming elections. Following Navalny’s imprisonment, some have suggested that his spouse should follow in his footsteps.
In 2020, in Belarus, after the detainment of anti-establishment blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky, his wife, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, took the reins. Her campaign was relatively successful, with some supporters believing she was the true victor of the presidential election. Official results showed that the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, won with 80 percent of the vote. Following the election, months of riots and protests occurred around the country, with demonstrators asking for the election to be annulled.
“As you know, a fire is easier to prevent than it is to put out,” a statement from the Avanti Association of Business Patriots said. “Preventing the possible participation of Yulia Navalnaya, spouse of foreign agent Alexey Navalny, in the State Duma elections, will prevent the Belarusian scenario and have a positive impact on maintaining the stability of our country’s political system.”
Although the association called Navalny a ‘foreign agent’, the opposition figure has not received that designation from the government. The Russian Justice Ministry placed his Anti-Corruption Foundation on the foreign agent list, but not him personally.
“In connection with the attempts by Western special services to destabilize the situation in Russia… I ask you to consider the possibility of introducing into the legislation prohibiting individuals recognized as foreign agents, as well as members of their families (close relatives), to nominate and be nominated for office,” the association said, in a letter to the speakers of Russia’s State Duma and Federation Council.
In response, the chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, spoke in favor of the suggestion.
“The initiative itself has not yet arrived in the State Duma. We know about it from media reports,” he said. “We share the position that individuals who are engaged by other governments must not be allowed to participate in elections.”