Happy Birthday Mr. President!

Opposition to Putin grows as the Russian elections draw closer

Happy Birthday Mr. President! Russian presidential elections will be held in March 2018 and Putin's main opponent Alexei Navalny is gathering Russia's youth behind him. As the election draws closer his support is growing.

"I am not interested in what the government says, because I am going to these elections to change the government", says Alexei Navalny. For years the charismatic opposition leader has used the power of social media to expose the Kremlin's corruption. But in gunning for Putin's job in the March elections, Navalny and his supporters have felt the full force of state opposition. "He's arrested for 20 days. So that's the birthday gift for Mr. Putin, I'm pretty sure", says Kostya Andriotis, the 24-year-old in charge of organizing her jailed leader's protest against the government. While the state bans any mention of Navalny on TV, and relocates protests to the middle of nowhere, they cannot stop the spread of dissent online or through encrypted messaging. "Young people stopped watching the "zombie box" long ago. They've turned to the Internet", says independent politician Maxim Reznik. In spite of his misgivings towards Navalny's stoking of nationalistic sentiment, Reznik honours his call to take to the streets in illegal protests. "I'm not walking for Navalny, or for Putin's birthday - I just want there to be free elections", says Reznik.

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