Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny has called on prosecutors to disband the All-Russia People’s Front, even as the Russian Post and its 400,000 employees consider joining the new election vehicle of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Navalny has asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate whether Putin is misusing taxpayers’ money on the group.
Putin and his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, use the government’s financial, technical and informational resources to achieve the nongovernmental group’s “goals and solve its tasks,” Navalny wrote in an open letter to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika on Wednesday.
Putin has held group meetings in a government building and funded it with public money, while Peskov has “covered” its activities during his work hours, Navalny said in the letter, posted on his LiveJournal blog.
Such activities are a violation of a 1997 law banning state officials from using government resources for “out-of-office purposes,” Navalny said.
Moreover, the All-Russia People’s Front itself violates Putin-backed legislation on nonprofit organizations because it is operating without registering with the Justice Ministry, he said.
Navalny said the group was renting premises for its office in the Moscow city government building on Novy Arbat illegally because it could not have signed a lease while being unregistered.
These violations provide “grounds to liquidate [the group] or ban its activities,” Navalny said.
Peskov told Ekho Moskvy radio that he and Putin would answer only to Chaika, and only if he decides to proceed with Navalny’s appeal.
He also called Navalny “an unqualified lawyer” and said his “main inaccuracy” in the letter was saying that Putin “came up with the initiative to create” the group.
Putin announced the creation of the group in April during a speech carried by numerous media outlets, including state television.
Navalny holds a master’s degree in law, according to Kommersant.
Meanwhile, the ranks of the All-Russia People’s Front may swell by about 400,000 members if employees of the state-owned Russian Post approve a referendum to join, Vedomosti reported Thursday. More than 400 organizations have already signed up to the group.
No date for the Russian Post referendum has been announced, but the postal service could offer unique campaigning opportunities, because its workers are capable of delivering election-related materials to virtually any voter in the country.
Russian Post head Alexander Kiselyov, however, has pledged that the company will not use its staff to help the campaigns of Putin and his party, United Russia, Gazeta.ru reported.
The All-Russia People’s Front continued its activities unperturbed Thursday, with pro-Kremlin Young Guard activists collecting public proposals for the group’s programs at several outdoor gatherings in Moscow, Ekho Moskvy said.
The group also voiced plans to invite the hundreds of blond-haired participants of the first All-Russia Blonde Convention, which opened Thursday in Sochi, to join, Interfax reported. The highlight of the gathering was to be the unveiling of a monument to blondes and the inauguration of the world’s first museum of blondes.