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Police Search Homes of Nadezhdin Campaign Volunteers in Southern Russia

Russians gather to sign papers endorsing Boris Nadezhdin's campaign bid. Dmitri Lovetsky / AP / TASS

Law enforcement agents have searched the homes of several volunteers from ex-presidential hopeful Boris Nadezhdin's campaign team in southern Russia, the online news outlet Caucasian Knot reported Thursday.

The police searches were carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday in the southern Russian city of Stavropol, local Nadezhdin campaign manager Alexander Korovayny told the outlet, adding that he believed the searches were connected to the March 15-17 presidential election.

"It seems they were trying to scare people, to deter them from being observers in the election, so that it could be easily falsified," Korovayny was quoted as saying.

Pro-peace presidential hopeful Nadezhdin, who was seen as a rare challenge to President Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election, was barred from the ballot over alleged errors in his endorsement signatures.

After he was disqualified from the race, Nadezhdin called on his supporters to volunteer as election observers, saying "We need to ensure the fair counting of votes." 

Another anonymous source from Nadezhdin's local campaign team told Caucasian Knot that some of the searches in Stavropol were conducted as early as last week, adding that one person had their personal electronic devices confiscated. 

The news comes a day after the head of Nadezhin's campaign in the Far East city of Vladivostok, Igor Krasnov, was arrested on charges of "displaying extremist symbols." 

Krasnov was arrested after he re-posted an image of a rainbow flag in a closed chat on the messaging app Telegram chat, which was reportedly hacked by law enforcement authorities, the OVD-Info rights group reported.

Another volunteer for Nadezhdin’s Vladivostok headquarters, Vladislav Spirenkov, was also arrested for six days for "displaying prohibited symbols," OVD-Info said.

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