RUSSIALINK: “Kremlin distances itself from Moscow election controversy” – Interfax

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Interfax – July 16, 2019)

The Kremlin has distanced itself from the controversy surrounding the registration of candidates in September’s Moscow city council election.

“Broadly speaking, this is a matter for the electoral commission, and here the Kremlin simply has neither the authority nor any intention to intervene in this situation,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on 16 July, as quoted by Russian news agency Interfax.

On 14 and 15 July, hundreds of people took part in protests in Moscow amid reports that a number of independent and opposition candidates are to be barred from running in the 8 September election to Moscow’s city Duma.

Commenting on business newspaper Vedomosti’s report on violations allegedly committed by the Moscow City Electoral Commission during the registration process, Peskov said: “With all due respect to this publication, to Vedomosti, I want to remind you that it is not Vedomosti which speaks the truth, it is the court which speaks the truth.”

“If there are any objections, any complaints, it is possible to resort to judicial proceedings and, based on what the court decides, it will be possible to draw some conclusions. For now all other conclusions are just opinions,” Peskov said.

The Kremlin is monitoring the situation but is not going to interfere in the process, he said.

Asked whether the current situation undermines the credibility of elections, Peskov recalled Vladimir Putin’s statement that there is no alternative to elections.

“Until now, elections in Moscow have always been held to a fairly high standard. These are the fundamental theses from which everyone proceeds,” he said.

He declined to comment on whether the requirement to collect signatures from at least 3 per cent of voters is “archaic”.

“I cannot say. There is no position formed on this issue. This has not been discussed until now,” Peskov said. He suggested that the issue may be considered after the results of the election have been analysed.