February 16, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7340

Russia This Week – The Presidential Election In Focus – February 16, 2018

February 16, 2018
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7340

Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, surveying developing stories in Russian domestic affairs as presented in the Russian media.

Image Of The Week

Official logo of the 2018 presidential elections.

Caption: "March 2018 – Elections for the President of Russia"


Tweets Of The Week

(Source:, February 5, 2018)

On February 5, in his Twitter account, opposition leader Alexey Navalny accused the staff presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the opposition Yabloko Party, of having forged 60 percent of his endorsements. He then added that all the other candidates, including Ksenia Sobchak, faked 99 percent of their signatures.

(Source:, February 5, 2018)

Following Navalny's accusations, Yabloko's Novosibirsk office retorted that Navalny is discrediting the work of thousands of signature-collectors throughout the country, adding that he should provide evidence, otherwise his accusations were only a dirty lie and slander.

Navalny shot back: "There are no thousands of signature-collectors and you know it well."

(, February 5, 2018)

In The News:

2018 Elections

The Central Elections committee finalized the list of the presidential candidates (, February 8, 2018):

Vladimir Putin


Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic Party)


Ksenia Sobchak (Civil Initiative Party)


Pavel Grudinin (Communist Party of Russian Federation)


Sergey Baburin (Russian All Peoples' Union)


Maxim Suraikin (Communists of Russia)


Boris Titov (business ombudsman)


Grigory Yavlinsky (Yabloko party)


Civil Initiative Candidate: Ksenia Sobchak

Sobchak is the candidate of Russia's Civil Initiative Party. She is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, President Putin's political mentor and former mayor of Saint Petersburg.

  • Sobchak Calls For Ban on Oliver Stone Documentary Ahead of Presidential Elections, (, February 13, 2018; Read full article)
  • Russian presidential candidate Sobchak takes campaign to Washington DC. Sobchak gave a speech at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, and also held a press conference at the National Press Club to highlight her political vision, Russia’s future, and relations between Moscow and the West. (, February 14, 2018; Read full article)
  • Russian Presidential Candidate Sobchak Calls for Legalizing Marijuana (, January 23, 2018; Read full article)
  • TV socialite Sobchak set to run in 2021 parliamentary polls after presidential race over (, February 3, 2018; Read full article)

See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7156, Reactions To Russian 'It Girl' Sobchak's Candidacy For 2018 Russian Presidential Elections, October 31, 2017.

See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7154, Memorable Political Tweets By Russian Presidential Hopeful Sobchak, October 30, 2017.

Ksenia Sobchak (Source:

Communist Party Of The Russian Federation Candidate: Pavel Grudinin

Russian businessman Pavel Grudinin is the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Grudinin, known as the "strawberry king", is Russia's largest strawberry grower.

  • A capitalist communist. As the farm’s financial fortunes improved during the new millennium, so did Grudinin’s. According to the Central Election Commission, he has earned an average of 26 million rubles — or around $460,000 — per year over the past six years… To the Communists, there is no paradox in being represented by a wealthy businessman. (, January 26, 2018, Read full article)


Illustration by Sophia Miroedova (Source:

LDPR Candidate: Vladimir Zhirinovsky

Zhirinovsky is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR).

See MEMRI TV Clip No. 5883, Russian Presidential Candidate: I Would Like to Be Tsar and Will Eliminate Those Who Impede Russia's Development, February 4, 2017.

See MEMRI TV Clip No. 6095, Russian LDPR Party Leader: Trump Is Politically Impotent, Melania Is a Bitch, June 18, 2017.

Communists of Russia Candidate: Maxim Suraikin

Communists of Russia is a communist party in Russia. It was founded in 2009 and was officially registered as a political party in 2012. Maxim Suraikin is the leader of the Communists of Russia party and the party's candidate for the Russian presidential elections.

  • The Communists of Russia party has released a populist elections program. Its proposals feature a call to reintroduce the death penalty, nationalize major companies, and restore the status quo ante of Soviet times. The party's leader Maxim Suraikin told reporters that the party's plan was titled “Ten Stalinist Blows to Capitalism”. (, April 19, 2016; Read full article)
  • Communists of Russia, a minor left-wing party, has proposed fining those who deny or distort the official history of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, saying such misrepresentations could sow societal discord and undermine the country’s stability. (, March 6, 2017, Read full article)

Yabloko Candidate: Grigory Yavlinsky

Grigory Yavlinsky is an economist and the leader of the liberal opposition party Yabloko.

  • Yavlinski's bio in English
  • Yavlinsky presented his economic program at the Economic Club meeting. Yavlinsky defined the key goals of his presidential program as follows: creation of a powerful modern economic system in Russia which would be competitive in the world division of labor and the elimination of poverty. According to Yavlinsky, the most important element in the creation of such an economic system should be "free and fearless" entrepreneurship and inviolability of private property, and the most important driver should be radical expansion of domestic demand, which would ensure not only the necessary parameters of economic growth, but also employment, income growth and a resolution of social problems, including the development of the pension system. (, February 13, 2018; Read full article)
  • Yabloko petitions the Central Electoral Commission to ban showing a film about Putin on the Russian television (, February 13, 2018; Read full article)
  • Yavlinsky demands of Putin to report on the mass death of Russians in Syria (, February 12, 2018; Read full article)
  • Yavlinsky launched a special website, "Is Crimea Really Ours?", where he answers questions about ways to solve the problem of Crimea and about the relations between Russia and Ukraine. Yavlinsky again calls for an international conference that could initiate a new referendum on the status of Crimea. Yavlinsky says that returning to the question of a new referendum in Crimea would be for Russia a sign of political power, rather than weakness. (, November 24, 2017, Read full article)
  • Yavlinsky on peace with Ukraine, the case of theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov, the imprisonment of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and the presidential campaign in Russia.(, November 17, 20187; Read full article)


Party Of Growth Candidate: Business Ombudsman Boris Titov

Boris Titov, the presidential commissioner on entrepreneurs' rights and a candidate in the 2018 presidential elections, is among the names included in the U.S. Treasury Department list. Titov is the presidential candidate of the small pro-business Party of Growth.

  • In December, the business ombudsman promised to ask Vladimir Putin to allow businessmen, who are defendants in criminal cases, to return home after they pay an indemnity to Russia. On February 3, Titov announced his plans in London. (, February 4, 2018; Read full article)


See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7316, Reactions By Russian Politicians And Businessmen Included On The Kremlin List, February 5, 2018.

Russian All Peoples' Union Candidate: Sergey Baburin

Sergey Baburin, Russian nationalist politician, former deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma and lawyer, is the candidate of the Russian All People's Union. Baburin was the sole deputy in 1991 to oppose the dissolution of the USSR. He has since pushed for a Slavic Union as a substitute. He naturally was a vociferous supporter of the Return of Crimea to Russia but was also active in encouraging the separatist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He was arrested in Moldova and released only after the intercession of Russian diplomats. He advocates a union between Russia and Belarus.

  • Baburin said that Iran and Russia should keep maintain their cooperation. (, January 1, 2018; Read full article)
  • Baburin has tried to weld the Communist and Russian Orthodox traditions as part of a distinct Russian alternative to the West. On the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution he gave a lecture at a church forum on November 8, 2017 titled "Ideals of the Great Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian-Orthodox Tradition of Russia." According to his thesis Russia developed and prospered under the Russian Orthodox traditions of fairness and social solidarity that were incorporated in the revolution. (, November 17, 2017)
  • Baburin has promised in his platform to oust the neoliberal cabinet of Dmitry Medvedev .(

Strange But True

Snow Storm In Moscow

Following the most powerful snow storms recorded in the last 100 years, Moscow's vice-mayor Petr Birukov said that local citizens, disappointed by the municipal cleaning services, threw eggs at the municipal workers and even opened fire upon them with flash-ball pistols. Following the storms, the municipality operated 72 thousand cleaning workers and relocated up to 1 million cubic meters of snow on a daily basis.

(, February 6, 2018)

Judges And Prosecutors Above The Law

According to new administrative rules, the Russian national road police cannot revoke driving licenses, detain, medically check or prevent judges and prosecutors from driving, even if they are caught driving under the influence of alcohol. The officer may only file a complaint to his superiors, who should file a complaint to internal regulation and compliance department.

(, February 8, 2018)

Draft On Responsibility For Inviting Foreigners To Russia

The legislative commission of the Russian government has supported a draft introduced by the Ministry of Interior, according to which Russian citizens inviting a foreign citizen to Russia are liable for his/her behavior. In case the foreign citizen violates the aim of the visit, his host will have to pay a fine.

(, February 6, 2018)

News In Brief:

  • Federal agents launch an all-out assault on the Dagestani government (, February 7, 2018; Read full article)
  • Kremlin says anti-corruption campaign in Dagestan not tied to politics (, February 8, 2018; Read full article)
  • Google Issues Warning to Navalny Over Billionaire Bribery Investigation (, February 13, 2018; Read full article)
  • Investigators will question Navalny about 'attacking' a cop (, February 5, 2018; Read full article)
  • Navalny calls for a nationwide ‘demonstration against idiocy’ (, February 6, 2018; Read full article)

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