Maxim Kirilenko’s election flyer. Photo: Maxim Kirilenko

“State for the people, not cogs for the empire.” A Murmansk politician ran for office under anti-war slogans

Maxim Kirilenko, a Communist Party candidate to the municipal council of Kildinstroy, Murmansk region, spoke out against war, imperialism and censorship in his election campaign. The Barents Observer spoke with the politician who is not afraid to speak his mind, despite repression and pressure from the authorities.
September 28, 2023


“For peace and freedom!”; “We need peace, not mobilization”; “Against war!”; “We need a State for the people, not cogs for the Empire.” These were the slogans local resident Maxim Kirilenko used in his campaign for the Council of Deputies in the village of Kildinstroy in the Murmansk region. He has a small moving business and he ran from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), of which, however, he is not a member.

Maxim Kirilenko’s election flyer. Photo: Maxim Kirilenko 


“I do not hide my left-wing convictions. I believe that now the greatest demand in Russian society is for social justice. Of course, only leftist parties can bring social justice. I am not a member of the KPRF, but they supported and nominated me” – Maxim Kirilenko said in an interview with The Barents Observer.

However, after the politician built his campaign on anti-war slogans, the Communist Party “disowned” Kirilenko.

“We have repeatedly stated that the communists of the Murmansk region support the special military operation (SVO) in Ukraine, provide support to the soldiers participating in the SVO and to residents of new regions of Russia… We are confident that Victory over Nazism and Banderaism will be won during the SVO!” the first secretary of the KPRF regional committee, Artur Popov, said on his VKontakte page.

Maxim Kirilenko campaigned for only a few days – he was registered as a candidate shortly before the so-called “days of silence.”

“I only had five days to talk to people and distribute some of my leaflets. It is those, whom I managed to visit personally and communicate with personally over the course of five days, voted. Had there been more time, the result would have been better,” Kirilenko said.

Once Maxim began distributing election leaflets with anti-war slogans, he got the interest of the police. He was called to the station during the election campaign.


“Of course, I was then called to the police, but in principle, being a politician, a politician must be able to maneuver and get out of difficult situations. I explained to the police that I put forward the slogan against war because the threat of war between Russia and NATO countries was growing. Well, they let me go for now, and then we’ll see. I explained that we don’t have a war between Russia and Ukraine, we have the SVO (special military operation), and my campaign leaflets say nothing about the SVO.”

Eventually the politician ended up in sixth place with 131 votes. In his opinion, the result is not bad, since the turnout at polling stations was quite small. The council seat went to a candidate from the ruling United Russia party.

“Three quarters of people are not interested in politics at all and do not come to the polls,” Kirilenko said. “The turnout is about twenty percent. And those who come are mainly pensioners and state employees from schools and kindergartens. And then there was early voting.”

Maxim Kirilenko with Gennady Zyuganov (right) and Valery Yarantsev (left). The caption under this photo on the politician’s Vkontakte page reads: “Thank you Gennady Andreevich for your support!!! Our cause is just – Victory will be ours!”


Kirilenko says he has been involved in politics since 2005. He repeatedly ran for various offices, participated in protest events and rallies, and was a member of Garry Kasparov’s United Civil Front and the Solidarity movement, created by Russian opposition.

It has been clear to me since the beginning of the 2000s that our country, under the leadership of Putin, is moving, to put it mildly, in the wrong direction. To put it more harshly, we’re just headed for disaster, that’s all.

“Of course, what happened did not happen overnight, it happened before our eyes, the dictatorship intensified, the regime tightened the screws. People are really afraid to express their opinion, they are even afraid to go out on the street with some kind of anti-war picket, even with a blank sheet of paper, because they will immediately be nabbed and can be closed behind bars for several days. Of course, I saw all this and was aware that there were certain risks.

But what do you do when everyone is afraid. Someone has to express their point of view.

In fact, there are no people who are not afraid, I’m also afraid, I’m concerned, let’s put it this way. I am driven by some kind of inner conviction: you need to act according to your conscience, as you think, that’s what you need to do. If everyone is afraid, then there will be much more evil in the world. Unfortunately, our people are zombied by propaganda. It is difficult to get through to people, of course. The anti-war sentiment in society is not completely absent, but is very weak. So, of course, it was quite risky. Well, I’m still free and that’s good”.


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