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Sobchak Criticizes Navalny's Election Boycott, Urges Unity

Alexei Navalny and Ksenia Sobchak (Sergei Fedeichev / TASS)

Russian presidential hopeful Ksenia Sobchak has offered opposition leader Alexei Navalny a place in her campaign, urging him not to boycott the March 2018 presidential elections.

Election officials decided on Monday to bar Navalny from running as a candidate because of a past criminal conviction that his supporters say is politically motivated. Shortly after the decision, Navalny called on his supporters to massively boycott next year’s elections.

Sobchak, who launched her presidential bid in October, criticized the decision to bar Navalny as a “monstrous injustice” but maintained that voters should still go to the polls. 

“Elections are still the only way to change anything. Boycotting them is inefficient and harmful,” Sobchak wrote in an Instagram post on Monday. 

She called on Navalny to join forces with her team if she is registered as a candidate. Russia’s Central Election Commission is scheduled to make the decision later on Tuesday. 

Critics have dismissed Sobchak, a socialite and former reality TV presenter-turned opposition activist and journalist, as a “spoiler” candidate co-opted by the Kremlin to split the opposition ticket. 

“I understand how hurt [he is] and how difficult it is for Alexei, but the common cause is more important,” she said Monday. 

“Therefore, I continue to urge all democratic forces to unite." 

Navalny has not yet publicly responded to Sobchak’s offer.

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