Day Before “Election Silence,” Russian Candidates Rock Out

Yekaterinburg mayoral candidate Evgeny Roizman sings alongside Russian rock icon Andrei Makarevich, 6 September 2013, screen capture from YouTube.

Yekaterinburg mayoral candidate Evgeny Roizman sings alongside Russian rock icon Andrei Makarevich, 6 September 2013, screen capture from YouTube.

Russia’s “Day of Election Silence” begins tomorrow, September 7, 2013, twenty-four hours before the nation heads to the polls to vote on scores of local parliaments, mayors, and governors. That being the case, many candidates took today, Friday, September 6, as an opportunity to throw one last campaign shebang. Most in the RuNet’s chattering classes turned their eyes to Moscow, where Alexey Navalny held a star-studded concert, attended by 8-10 thousand people. Few, though, expect Navalny to win Moscow’s mayoral race. Indeed, recent polling [ru] indicates that he is unlikely even to force a second round of voting.

In the Yekaterinburg mayoral race, on the other hand, the opposition candidate, Evgeny Roizman, is the frontrunner. He, too, held a music concert today, welcoming Russian rock music legend Andrei Makarevich. While Navalny’s concert appears to have come off without any problems (other than bad weather), Roizman’s production encountered yet another act of intimidation by local police.

Roizman’s campaign manager and domestic partner Aksana Panova wrote [ru] on Facebook that the festivities were set to take place in downtown’s Labor Square [ru]. However, when she and others arrived on site, Friday morning, they found the stage dismantled and encircled by several large, abandoned tractors. Panova claimed the act was the work of Roizman’s political nemesis, Sverdlovsk Governor Evgeny Kuivashev. Indeed, she managed to snap a photograph of one of the tractors’ cockpits, from which hung a miniature United Russia flag.

Writing on Facebook this morning, Moscow-based journalist Anton Chernin also reported [ru] the local authorities’ involvement in disassembling Roizman’s stage (though he linked the deed to the city mayor, not the oblast governor). In comments [ru] to the Urals-based web portal, two different officials in Yekaterinburg’s city office gave conflicting accounts of this morning’s events, leaving it unclear whether Roizman’s concert was unsanctioned by the government or Roizman’s own organizers packed up their things “voluntarily” and quit.

Panova (far left), Makarevich (center, in red), and OMON officers in Yekaterinburg, 6 September 2013.

Whatever the reasons for the tractors and the missing platform, Panova was able to reach a quick agreement with the owners of a different stage in a neighboring square, where the event ultimately took place. Roizman’s staff estimates [ru] that upwards of one thousand people came to cheer his campaign and listen to Makarevich, though (according to Panova) a police perimeter kept out others who wanted to attend. Despite the disruptions by law enforcement agents, at least three special ops officers couldn’t resist having their photo taken with the rock music icon. Naturally, Panova posted the image to her Facebook account (see right), declaring contentedly:

Андрей приехал. Сцену разобрали. Кругом ОМОН и автзаки. Макаревич улыбается. Гитара с ним. Все будет хорошо.

Andrei [Makarevich] has arrived. The stage has been dismantled. Special ops police and police vans encircle us. [But] Makarevich is smiling. He has a guitar with him. Everything will be okay.

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