Russia election 2024: Barred opposition candidate says not crossing ‘red lines’ has kept him out of prison

Russia election 2024: Barred opposition candidate says not crossing 'red lines' has kept him out of prison

A Russian opposition politician who was barred from running in the presidential election has told Sky News he will not meet the same fate as Alexei Navalny because he does not cross political “red lines”.

Boris Nadezhdin, who served in the State Duma between 1999 and 2003 and has been a long-term critic of the government, says he believes the fact he has never been personally critical of Vladimir Putin has kept him alive and out of prison.

Ukraine war latest: Follow live updates

He said: “I think that in comparison with people such as Boris Nemtsov, who was killed and was my friend for many years, and Alexei Navalny and other people I know, I have never crossed the ‘red lines’.

“For example I never criticised Putin personally, I have politically criticised him for 20 years but have never criticised what he is like as a man.

“Secondly, I have never had any support from foreign governments.

“These are red lines in Russian politics and I have to do my job in a way that observes Russian laws.”

Read more:
Putin will predictably win the election – here’s why it still matters
How serious is Putin’s threat?

Mr Nadezhdin added that he believes his anti-war stance is what prevented him getting on the ballot paper.

He claims his polling projected he was on course to garner up to 30% of the electorate’s support before his ambitions were ended by Russia’s electoral commission.

Boris Nadezhdin. Pic: Reuters

He said: “When I began to collect the signatures of hundreds of thousands of people across Russia and my support was rising every week.

“My support was about 15% when I went to submit myself to the electoral commission, and polls showed it could rise to about 30%.

“I think a large amount of my support was because of my anti-war stance, and I think this stance was why I wasn’t permitted to run in these elections.”

Voters are heading to the polls in Russia for a three-day presidential election that is all but certain to extend President Putin’s rule by another six years.

The election takes place against the backdrop of a ruthless crackdown that has crippled independent media and prominent rights groups and given him full control of the political system.

It also comes as the war in Ukraine rages on into its third year.