15 Jul 2019 17:27

Meeting with Moscow City Elections Commission chair didn't take place - opposition candidates to Moscow City Duma

MOSCOW. July 15 (Interfax) - A meeting between Moscow City Elections Commission Chairman Valentin Gorbunov and the candidates from the opposition effectively did not take place, Ilya Yashin, a Moscow City Duma candidate in the 45th constituency, told journalists in front of the elections commission's building. Media were not allowed to enter the building.

"Instead of what was publicly announced on [the radio station] Ekho Moskvy, a public meeting with the candidates, Gorbunov decided to change the format and offered to receive us personally. Naturally, we weren't satisfied with this format and, well, at some point he came out and basically told us in a monologue that he is not ready to discuss anything with us, our arguments on their merits, because the decisions of the Moscow City Elections Commission have not yet been adopted," Yashin told journalists. "A small, but important detail: Gorbunov refused to shake my hand during the meeting, he's so irritated with the independent candidates," he said.

According to leader of the Party of Change Dmitry Gudkov, a candidate in the 5th constituency, Gorbunov promised the candidates, who gathered for the meeting, that representatives of the Moscow City Elections Commission would be sent to meetings of the elections commissions of the constituencies to take place tomorrow.

On Sunday, an unauthorized protest in the form of a mass meeting between the independent candidates and their voters, which, according to the Interior Ministry, was attended by about 1,000 people, took place in Moscow. The protesters demanded that the Moscow City Elections Commission register the independent candidates and not discard their signatures on technicalities. The protest began in the Novopushkinsky Park and then the protesters walked to the Moscow mayor's office and the Moscow City Elections Commission.

The candidates then demanded a meeting with Gorbunov. Yashin told the protestors, citing Gorbunov's assistant, that the chairman of the Moscow City Elections Commission was in his country house. Several hours later, the protesters had started putting up tents for a nighttime strike, after which the police cleaned up the site in front of the elections commission. According to official information, 25 people, including Yashin, Lyubov Sobol, Ivan Zhdanov, and Yulia Galyamina, were detained.

Gorbunov told Ekho Moskvy on Monday that he was not in his country house but was holding a major press conference. "I said in the presence of all the press yesterday, let them come on Monday and I will receive them. They're provoking us. Who's denying them a meeting? If you have a day off, and they demand you appear at the radio station, is that okay?" he said, answering the hosts' question of whether he should meet with the candidates after the protests.

Gorbunov told Interfax he is "ready to meet with everyone in the format of a personal reception, [with] those who are ready to discuss the campaign process in a constructive fashion and have specific suggestions and offers."