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25 Feb, 2021 16:01

‘Compulsory vaccination’: Moscow Communist MP takes aim at mayor for ending pensioners' free transport until they get Covid-19 jab

‘Compulsory vaccination’: Moscow Communist MP takes aim at mayor for ending pensioners' free transport until they get Covid-19 jab

Controversial Russian Communist MP Valery Rashkin has asked the country's General Prosecutor's Office to investigate if Moscow is legally allowed to refuse free travel to pensioners who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Last year, the city’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, from the pro-Vladimir Putin United Russia party, decided to block the social cards of the elderly, forcing them to pay for travel until they get inoculated. According to Rashkin, the Communist leader in the capital, this is tantamount to compulsory vaccination.

“The mayor's decree violates the rights of citizens of the city of Moscow over 65 years of age to discount travel on public transport by blocking social cards,” Rashkin wrote in a letter to the General Prosecutor. “For a long time, pensioners have not been able to use public transport [making them] cut off from life, or are forced to buy a Troika card to pay their fare.”

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Rashkin is not the first person to challenge the mayor's decree. Earlier this year, lawyer and pensioner Yuri Kachan appealed to the Moscow City Court, who noted that he could legally provide legal services but could not ride the bus for free. In response, the court rejected Kachan's complaint, declaring Sobyanin's decision lawful.

In recent months, Rashkin has become a more prominent member of the Communist Party and has been vocal on several issues. Last week, he wrote to the authorities to investigate whether TV host Vladimir Solovyov had broken the law after calling Adolf Hitler a “very brave man.”

The politician is also no stranger to infighting within his own party. On Friday, long-time Communist head Gennady Zyuganov threatened to kick Rashkin out of the party after he spoke out against what he called the “persecution of dissidents,” “terror against any opposition,” and “political repression.” In particular, he came to the defense of Nikolay Bondarenko, a Communist politician in Saratov, who was fined 20,000 rubles ($270) for having attended an unsanctioned rally in support of opposition figure Navalny.

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“If Rashkin speaks for Navalny, he will be kicked out of the party!” Zyuganov said.

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