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Poor voters! Three lookalike candidates with same name are on this election ballot paper in Russia

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By Euronews with AFP
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Boris (Lazarevich) Vishnevsky holds a photocopy of a poster with candidates running for election to the regional parliament in Saint Petersburg.
Boris (Lazarevich) Vishnevsky holds a photocopy of a poster with candidates running for election to the regional parliament in Saint Petersburg.   -   Copyright  OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP
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Voters will face a bewildering challenge in elections in Saint Petersburg, Russia, later this month.

Three candidates -- all with the same name and a similar appearance -- will appear on the ballot paper for the parliamentary poll.

Boris Vishnevsky, a well-known opposition politician in Russia's second-largest city, will compete against two others candidates. They are both called "Boris Vishnevsky", are also balding and sport short beards.

"I saw that two fake Vishnevskys had clearly changed in appearance, in order to look more like me," said the real Vishnevsky.

"One of them, 'Boris Ivanovich', looked until recently completely different. His name was Viktor Bykov, he is an acting deputy, and on the website of the municipality he looks completely different, without a beard or a moustache."

This is a common political tactic in Russia, as similarly named candidates are often used to weaken support for a popular politician.

Russian opposition politicians are used to finding candidates with identical surnames running against them in order to confuse voters at the polls, but now it appears that the impersonators are changing their faces as well.

"They do not care for conscience, reputation, honour, and neither do their bosses from the ruling party (United Russia)," Vishnevsky added.

"We all understand where this is coming from, and who I am interfering with in these elections. Well, they must have a very high opinion of me."

The head of Russia's Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, has denounced the situation, calling it "a disgrace" and "a mockery of voters", but suggested that little can be done.

She has also appealed to the two other candidates to withdraw.

Watch the full report in the video player above.