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On 2 November 2016, the court in Vologda sentenced Yevgeny Domozhirov to 40 hours compulsory labour. The National Electoral Commission declined even to consider the candidacy of Lyudmila Kuzmina for appointment to the Electoral Commission of Samara province. Local developers accused Antonina Stetsenko, an opposition local government deputy for Khimki in Moscow province, of ‘subversion’.
These are all people who once set their personal interests aside and tried to stand up for the interests of society. In each case, they felt that this was the only way they could retain their self-respect.
Human rights activist Lyudmila Kuzmina recounts her conversation with the Samara police with a smile. ‘I said to them, “There is Reymer, a former head of the Federal Penitentiary Service, who was the head of the Samara Police Department in the late 2000s, jailed for a million embezzlements, and here you lot are, still pursuing me for some sort of fines!’ The former head of Volga Vote, an interregional public foundation, describes her relations with the government with heavy irony. This evidently helps her to cope with a relentless witch-hunt (which today is a hunt for ‘CIA agents’), which has seen all the official institutions of Samara province, from the tax office to the public prosecutor, from the police to the investigative committee, persecuting a frail woman with such zeal you might suppose the movement to introduce honest elections was the greatest threat to the region. Through their efforts, Lyudmila Kuzmina’s apartment and car have been sequestrated and her pension account has been frozen. By now she pays no attention to the endless denunciations and threats from ‘patriots’ of every shape and hue, or to the ‘investigations’ of her by government-controlled media. In the course of her life, she has seen this all before, but what makes it more difficult to bear now is the loss of hope that things may change.
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