Russian opposition politician and former member of the State Duma Boris Nadezhdin wants to stand as a candidate for the presidential election in Russia. People are queuing up in freezing temperatures to leave their signatures in his support. Nadezhdin has sharply criticised Putin and the war against Ukraine. Commentators commend his political activism but don't see the presidential hopeful having much of a chance.

Rehabilitating Russian society

Writing on Facebook, political commentator Abbas Galliamov stresses the social value of such acts of resistance:

“The protesting wives of those who were mobilised, the Bashkirs who rebelled in remote Baymak, the people queuing up to sign for Nadezhdin, and those setting up regional branches of Yekaterina Duntsova's [new opposition] party - all of them are destroying the myth of popular support for the war and Putin. It's hard to imagine anything more significant than these simple steps. The people who take them are literally rebuilding society, restoring its nervous system.”

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Queuing up against the war

Nadezhdin's candidacy won't be authorised by the Kremlin because the opposition politician is too popular, Republic editor-in-chief Dmitry Kolesev says in a Telegram post republished by Echo:

“It has become clear that there are still opposition-minded people in the country. And since Boris Nadezhdin positions himself as an anti-war candidate, it can be said that this was a form of legal action against the war. People felt the joy of collective action, it gave them hope, they at least had the feeling that they had done something. ... I think it's unlikely that Nadezhdin's name will end up on the ballot paper. If simply collecting signatures for a candidate already energises the opposition and inspires people, what would happen in an election campaign?”

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Dangerous popularity

Gazeta Wyborcza doesn't believe Nadezhdin has a fair chance:

“Boris Nadezhdin, a 60-year-old liberal politician with a wealth of experience and a well-known name, has not yet been eliminated from the election process. ... Things are going well for him, as 80,000 compatriots [now 100,000] have already placed their trust in him and more are queuing up in Moscow to endorse his candidacy. ... Nadezhdin speaks out strongly against Putin's war and proclaims that 'it is necessary to elect a new government to end this story with Ukraine'. However, he himself is in the hands of Putin, who can prevent him from standing for election at any time under one formal pretext or another.”

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Discontent will simmer without boiling over

The Russian population will not rise up against Putin in the foreseeable future, Kaleva is convinced:

“War-weariness is evident in Russian social media, where the promised victory and takeover of power in Kyiv have faded into the background and been replaced by expressions of grief over the growing number of Russian soldiers who have been killed. But will the discontent finally erupt in Moscow, St Petersburg, or even in the regions of the national minorities, which have already seen the first riots? That remains unlikely. The apparatus of brute force seems to have a firm grip on the country, and Putin still has a large following, thanks in part to the propaganda apparatus.”

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