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Putin’s opposition party doesn’t have a candidate. But it has a plan.

"With the boycott we can show that this regime isn’t legitimate — to stop Vladimir Putin from saying he is the nation’s choice."

by Josh Hersh
Mar 13 2018, 2:15pm

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny ought to be one of the leading challengers to President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s elections on Sunday. But he's been barred from running, after a criminal conviction that his supporters say is politically motivated.

With no meaningful opposition, Putin is a shoo-in for another six-year term; he's polling at 70 percent. The only real question is how much he'll win by — and whether he'll reach his reported goal of seventy percent turnout.

That's where Navalny's party sees a small opening. He's calling for his loyal supporters to stay at home and boycott the vote in hopes that if they can keep the poll numbers down, Putin will have a little less to celebrate.

"With the boycott we can show that this regime isn’t legitimate — to stop Vladimir Putin from saying he is the nation’s choice," said Ruslan Shaveddinov, a regular on Navalny's popular YouTube channel. "We know that it is really important for him. So we are doing our best to ruin his plans and to ruin his fun."

VICE News went to Moscow to find out if the opposition can have any real impact in Russian politics.

This segment originally aired March 12, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

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