Russian opposition leader, Garry Kasparov, is back on the campaign trail after being released from prison. The former chess champion used an interview with a Moscow radio station to launch another attack on the government, ahead of this Sunday’s polls. Kasparov was jailed for five days after leading an opposition rally at the weekend.
In the radio interview he said forces were uniting in Russia against the anti-democratic powers that be, adding that some 10 political movements from left and right alike were currently squeezed out of the political process.
Opposition groups accuse President Vladimir Putin of strong-arming them out of the pre-election debate. Kasparov’s latest spell behind bars may have been brief, but it effectively excluded him from the last week of campaigning before Sunday’s ballot.
No such troubles for Putin, who used a televised address yesterday to urge voters to back his United Russia party.
It is predicted to be heading towards a landslide winning as much as 70 per cent. But the international community is growing increasingly concerned about Putin’s increasing power. Sunday’s vote will be monitored by 330 international observers, far less than in 2003.
However, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – widely recognised in the west as an important monitor of the fairness of elections – has pulled out after Moscow imposed new conditions on it.