Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the co-chairman of marginal People’s Freedom Party, which the justice ministry refused to register, faces the third trial on the same charges.

The police detained Boris Nemtsov in St Petersburg on 14 August. He campaigned for protest vote: he called for the voters of Krasnenkaya Rechka constituency to vote against all candidates for municipal council. His idea was to prevent former governor Valentina Matvienko of St Petersburg from being elected to the council which paved her way to the upper house of the parliament, known as the Federation Council.

There is no “none of the above” option on a ballot in Russia. 

Magistrate Semen Lomazov acquitted Nemtsov, but prosecutors appealed against his decision. Then Lomazov overturned his own decision, and Nemtsov was found guilty. That was not enough for the prosecutors: they filed another appeal. The magistrate had no legal grounds to find Nemtsov, according to the appeal submitted to the Court of Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District on 9 September. The same judge passed both verdicts: non-guilty on 26 August and guilty on 7 September, the document says. “Mutually exclusive decisions of the same judge in the same case can not be legal, because it contradicts the meaning of the law”.

“Such decisions seem to point at the pressure which was put on the judge,” says the Nemtsov’s lawyer. “They need the same verdict, but signed by another judge”.

The leaders of the People’s Freedom Party are quoted by the Russian Mafia (rumafia.com) as saying that by submitting further appeals the authorities try to counterbalance the efforts of opposition to campaign for against-all vote.

The opposition founded the internet movement called “NaKh-NaKh. Vote against all!” Nakh is a short form of foul word in Russian, meaning “I do not care!”