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Thirty-five representatives of online businesses expressed public support for Moscow mayoral candidate, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Vedomosti business daily wrote in its article titled “Navalny’s 35 friends.” The newspaper called this support a precedent, as since the times of “equidistance of oligarchs” businesses had not taken the risk to express open support for the opposition.
In its manifesto business representatives explained their motives for support. “Instead of voting with our heart we conclude a social contract with the politician. Our support is not an act of charity,” they said. “We expect that Navalny would protect the supremacy of law and would support independent courts and real accountability of civil servants to the society. On our part we will support Navalny’s policy with reputation, financial, organizational and other resources.”
The daily publishes not a full list of signatories to “the contract”. On this list are owners and top managers of Wikimart online shopping mall Kamil Kurmakayev and Maxim Faldin, of Groupon discount coupon site and Eduson.tv education portal Elena Maslova, of HeadHunter.ru Yuri Virovets, and of Mann, Ivanov and Ferber publishing house Mikhail Ivanov.
Kamil Kurmakayev said two weeks ago business people met with Navalny and discussed how they could help. Thus, an idea of a social contract between new businesses and a new politician leaped into their mind. “It’s often sad that businesses are staying out of politics, but we consider such a position as cowardice and hypocrisy. It is high time to recognize that politics exerts a direct influence on businesses. It is a part of our work and direct social responsibility to unite and to get political representation,” the manifesto read.
Many business people refused to sign the manifesto; others said they were not interested in politics. Some of them said they supported Sergei Sobyanin and others simply feared problems.
The daily recalled that in May 2012 a group of sixteen business people and representatives of intelligentsia announced their financial support for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund. “Two of them, ex-rector of the New Economic School, Sergei Guriyev, and his wife, economist Yekaterina Zhuravskaya, fled Russia fearing criminal persecution,” the newspaper wrote.
“Small businesses’ open support for the opposition is an absolutely new situation,” said Vyacheslav Igrunov, a former State Duma parliamentarian. “Soon after “equidistance of oligarchs” and the Yukos case big businesses started helping only those parties at which the Kremlin pointed. Now big businesses will not take too many risks, as too much is put at stake, while small and medium businesses, probably, feel so tired of the current rules that they are ready to take such steps,” Igrunov said.