St. Petersburg gubernatorial hopeful pledges to fight on after being forced to drop out — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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St. Petersburg gubernatorial hopeful pledges to fight on after being forced to drop out

Lyudmila Vasilyeva. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov / Novaya Gazeta Europe

Lyudmila Vasilyeva. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov / Novaya Gazeta Europe

Lyudmila Vasilyeva, an 82-year-old anti-war candidate who was forced to drop out of the race to become the next governor of St. Petersburg, pledged to continue her political work during a press conference on Monday.

Vasilyeva, a survivor of the Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War II and a staunch critic of the war in Ukraine, was supported by the Dawn party, founded earlier this year by fellow anti-war politician Yekaterina Duntsova, who was herself barred from running in March’s presidential election.

Although Vasilyeva received support from thousands of St. Petersburg residents, she only collected 6,800 of the 76,000 signatures required to register her candidacy. St. Petersburg residents are due to go to the polls on 6–8 September to elect the city’s next governor.

“It doesn’t matter whether I win this race or not, I demand that the war stop immediately. Nothing stops when my campaign ends. I will continue to fight,” Vasilyeva said after being forced to drop out of the race.

Lyudmila Vasilyeva. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov / Novaya Gazeta Europe

Lyudmila Vasilyeva. Photo: Dmitry Tsyganov / Novaya Gazeta Europe

Vasilyeva’s team blamed election rules in the city which, they said, had been “drawn up in such a way as to not allow a single independent candidate”. They also noted the reluctance of local media to cover her campaign, as well as opposition from local authorities and police as factors in her failed run.

The backlash Vasilyeva has faced is not out of the ordinary for opposition candidates in Russia, as those who challenge pro-Kremlin candidates are often forced to drop out or face imprisonment.

Despite her defeat and the backlash she has endured, Vasilyeva said she remained proud of her candidacy and didn’t have any “defeatist sentiments”, adding that “As long as there is no peace, nothing good will happen either in Russia or in St. Petersburg.”

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