Status: 08.12.2023, 21:26 PM
By: Jens Kiffmeier
Distributed secret messages of his anti-Putin campaign via billboards: the imprisoned oppositionist Alexei Navalny. © Itar-Tass/Imago/dpaa/Montage
The power struggle is raging in Russia: Alexey Navalny is calling for Putin to be voted out of office – and hiding messages in QR codes on Moscow billboards. The Kremlin reacts.
Moscow – Despite his imprisonment, the opposition activist remains vocal: Alexei Navalny wants to prevent the re-election of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president – and is using a trick to spread his message among the people. Allies of the Kremlin critic had cracked the Matrix barcodes on Moscow billboards and used them to direct readers to an anti-Putin campaign for the 2024 presidential election. But the bluff was blown up, as the Moscow Times reported on Friday (8 December). Promptly, there was a city-wide ban on QR codes on advertising signs. And concern about Putin's adversary is growing.
"Everyone but Putin": Navalny launches campaign for the 2024 election in Russia – and manipulates QR codes
In any case, the battle for the presidency in Russia is picking up speed. A few days ago, the Kremlin confirmed the official date for the 2024 elections. They are scheduled to take place in March. Immediately after the announcement, imprisoned opposition activist Alexei Navalny called on all voters to elect a new Kremlin chief. "Everyone except Putin" was the slogan of the campaign. Unmoved, however, Putin announced his renewed candidacy on Friday.
However, Navalny's team launched the website neputin.org specifically for the counter-campaign, which calls on Russians to convince others to vote against Putin. To access the site, a QR code was used, which was displayed on billboards across the country. The QR codes were disguised as harmless New Year's greetings and contained the message "Russia. Happy New Year". As soon as the authorities learned of the deception, the billboards were reportedly removed immediately.
Navalny trick blows up – Kremlin bans billboards
According to the independent news source Sota, the Moscow city government has issued an instruction to advertising distributors to ban QR codes from billboards from now on. The reason: QR codes contain various information as online links and are susceptible to changes – which would violate the Russian advertising law. That's why it's a ban.
As reported by the news portal Meduza, the QR code that led to neputin.org was originally redirected to another website promoting a nationwide art competition. Navalny's allies would then likely have redirected the code to point to the anti-Putin campaign website neputin.org, the report said. On Friday, Navalny's team then announced that Russia's communications regulator had blocked access to neputin.org.
First poisoning, then circulatory collapse: Navalny is said to be ill in solitary confinement
Despite the looming election controversy, Navalny's supporters remain very worried about their leader. Navalny, who barely survived poisoning a few years ago, is said to have suffered a circulatory collapse in prison. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the imprisoned Russian oppositionist on Platform X. The 47-year-old is serving a total of more than 30 years in a penal colony. The state of health is most likely worrying, Der Spiegel reported.
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According to the report, the lawyers of the imprisoned Putin opponent were recently prevented from gaining access to him. However, it seems that Navalny fell ill in his solitary confinement cell and lay down on the floor. The prison staff then treated him and gave him an IV. It is unclear what exactly led to the incident, but due to the poor conditions of detention and lack of food intake, it is suspected that it could be a collapse due to starvation. However, the reports cannot be independently verified at present. (jeki)
Editor Jens Kiffmeier wrote this article and then used an AI language model for optimization at his own discretion. All information has been carefully verified.