The people of Russia have spoken, and they have elected a libertarian.
Or, at least, 662 individuals cast ballots for Russian Libertarian Party Chairman and independent candidate Andey Shalnev in the Moscow regional council race. That might not sound like much, but at 28.36 percent of the vote in the Pushkino District, he received the second-most votes, which earns him the seat as the deputy councilman of a district with over 100,000 constituents.
Shalnev, who has been party chairman since 2011, is the second-ever Libertarian Party member to be elected to office in Russia. The first, Vera Kichanova (read her Reason interview here), describes Shalnev as "a principled politician" and his victory as "huge for our team."
Getting here wasn't easy. Russia is already ranked by Freedom House as "not free" (and getting worse) and Vladimir Putin is engaging in a major crackdown on Russia's political opposition, independent journalists, and social media activists. This almost certainly puts Shalnev in the crosshairs. The candidate claims there was "in comparison with previous elections, an increased the percentage of early voting" that he believes is the result of "systematic vote-buying of alcoholics, local [hooligans] and needy pensioners." People were paying these individuals 200 rubles (about $5.25) to vote for the candidate of Putin's United Russia Party.
Kichanova reported on Facebook during the election that the polling station aired commercials for the United Russia candidate, and that there were dubious, unexplained "mobile reserve polling stations" set up in buses exclusively in that district.
Read more Reason coverage of the Libertarian opposition to Putin here, a major non-libertarian opposition figure whom I speculated could be the "Ron Paul of Russia," and Russia's war in Ukraine (which the Russian Libertarian Party opposes) here .