Like Russia and other countries, prominent Russians in Switzerland collected signatures for the candidacy of opposition candidate Boris Nadeshtin against Vladimir Putin.
His re-election is considered a certainty. It is not a real choice. Nevertheless, signing for Nadeshtin grew into an event where Russians expressed their displeasure.
Oleg Nenashev organized a collection of manuscripts in Switzerland. The Russian, who has lived in Switzerland since 2016, tells SWI swissinfo.ch what he wants to achieve.
Oleg Nenashev has been living in Switzerland since 2016 and has organized a collection of manuscripts.
SWI swissinfo.ch: Do you see your action as a form of protest?
Oleg Nenashev: Yes, she is. A signature for an anti-war candidate is one of the few forms of free expression still possible in Russia.
The signatures from abroad are those of potential “foreign agents”, which is why Boris Nadeshtin did not submit them so as not to give the authorities any further reason to reject them. From the regime's perspective, all expatriates are considered unreliable because they are “susceptible to foreign influence.”
So the Russian emigrants initially considered it pointless to collect abroad. But after the shock of Russia's civil society, we organized ourselves.
For many, signing up for Nadeshtin is the first political action in their lives.
Signatures sent to Russia from abroad are not counted. Then what is the point of signing?
They see that they are not alone. For many, signing up for Nadeshtin is the first political action in their lives. Many did not sign for Nadeshtin, but against Putin.
I don't see the upcoming “process” as a real choice. But collecting signatures keeps the state apparatus busy, distracting it from the war in Ukraine.
Isn't this election about winning?
In a totalitarian system like Russia, the regime likes to use such “elections” to confirm its legitimacy, if it can be done without contradictions. Any action that publicly undermines this will be effective.
Aren't you afraid that your involvement will affect your relatives in Russia?
Everyone involved answers this question for themselves. Almost all my relatives support the war. I made my position clear at the very beginning of the war and offered to cut off communication for their own safety. Many of them did it.
How did your life in Switzerland change your view of Russia?
I feel very comfortable in this company. I enjoy being involved in politics. Last autumn, I was able to vote in my community as foreigners were allowed in the Newcastle region. These are my first real elections.
Interview conducted by Igor Petrov, swissinfo.ch.
Watch the full interview here At SWI swissinfo.ch According to
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”