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  2. Activist Anna Stepanova from Arkhangelsk is removed from elections because of tough questions about Shies

Activist Anna Stepanova from Arkhangelsk is removed from elections because of tough questions about Shies

Elena Zholobova
Anna Stepanova
Photo from her page on vk.com
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The Communist Party has withdrawn the nomination of Anna Stepanova, an activist of Shies, who was nominated by the party in the elections to the Assembly of Deputies of the Plesetsk district, Arkhangelsk Oblast. This happened immediately after Stepanova's husband publicly asked the Communist Party's nominee for the State Duma Nadezhda Vinogradova about her opinion on the unfulfilled construction of a landfill at the Shies station. Vinogradova, who was the regional investment policy commission's member, voted for the Shies Ecotechnopark's inclusion into the list of prior investments projects of Arkhangelsk Oblast in 2018. Anna Stepanova told 7x7 about this.

In the evening of September 12, activist of Shies Anna Stepanova was still listed on the regional election commission’s website as a registered Communist Party's nominee in the elections to the Assembly of Deputies of the Plesetsk municipal district in the fifth single-member district. However, according to the activist, on September 11, she received a call from the territorial election commission and was informed that she was being removed from the elections because of an application from the Communist Party, and the information on the regional election commission's website would be updated on Monday, September 13.

Stepanova said that representatives of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation had also notified her about the withdrawal from the elections, but they had promised to publish the formal reasons later. The activist herself says that her opinion on the nomination of incumbent Deputy Speaker of the regional Assembly of Deputies Nadezhda Vinogradova to the State Duma from the Arkhangelsk branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was the reason for such a decision.

"When I learned that the Communist Party was nominating Vinogradova to the State Duma, I said [to party members], ‘Why are you nominating a person from our region who promoted the landfill at the Shies station?’ They said that everyone makes mistakes or something. But this person does not admit her mistakes. She keeps telling everyone that she did not support the construction of the landfill, although there is evidence that she not only voted for it in 2018, but also later, in May 2019, gave speeches that the ecotechnopark project should have been implemented, but within the law," Anna Stepanova commented in an interview with 7x7.

On September 9, Nadezhda Vinogradova met with voters in Plesetsk. According to the activist, she warned the party leadership that she would come to this event and ask Vinogradova about Shies. In response, according to Stepanova, she was threatened with withdrawal from the elections:

"I was told that since I was the party’s nominee, I should have supported its decisions. But my inner voice lives with me, not in the party. And I cannot cross it and hide my conscience somewhere. I cannot do that."

In the video published on the Pomorie is not a Dump! Piblic Page, Anna's husband Ilya Stepanov asks about Nadezhda Vinogradova's vote for the recognition of the ecotechnopark at Shies as a prior project. The nominee for the State Duma responded that "this was not true" and that she had always countervoted on every Shies-related issue, as the entire Communist Party faction did. After seeing the minutes of the investment commission under the government, in which she was not as a deputy, but as the CEO of a business firm, Nadezhda Vinogradova said that this was "not a deputies’ session" and that "these were completely different things." Anna Stepanova was at the meeting and recorded what was happening on her phone.

She added that she had expected the party's decision to withdraw her from the elections, and she was going to continue engaging in activism.

"I did not want to be nominated at all, because I had no time for the whole thing. But the Communist Party persuaded me, they say, the party needs such young and ambitious people. I did not join the party. For me, the party by itself does not matter at all. I took part in the elections in order to receive answers from higher authorities more quickly. I thought that the deputy status would help me there. I feel bad not for myself, but for people who have lost hope again, who will not see a person they can trust in the lists again," she concluded.

Alexander Grevtsov, the first secretary of the committee of the Arkhangelsk regional branch of the Communist Party, did not respond to 7x7’s request to comment on Stepanova's withdrawal from the elections at the time of the material’s publication.

Protests against the construction of a landfill for the import of waste from Moscow at the Shies station (the border of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Komi Republic) took more than a year and a half. Activists fixed a tent camp and organized a round-the-clock watch to prevent the object’s construction. At the same time, large-scale protests were held in several cities and towns of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Komi Republic. As a result, the Technopark Company has withdrawn from building the object, having promised to reclaim the territory by the summer of 2021. According to activists, the last construction equipment left Shies on August 11.


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