Opposition politician’s campaign gathers steam ahead of 2018 election, but his supporters face threats and intimidation

It has been a rough couple of months for Ksenia Pakhomova, a bright-eyed, garrulous 23-year-old from the Siberian mining town of Kemerovo. Her boyfriend was kicked out of university, her mother was fired from her teaching job at an arts school, and her grandmother was threatened with dismissal from her job at a gallery.

To top it off, someone plastered notices with her photograph in public places near her home, complete with her mobile number and an offer of sexual services.

Related: Putin rival Ksenia Sobchak insists she is not part of Kremlin plot

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