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Below is the whole sentence that makes me confused.

One respectably dressed middle-aged man carrying groceries asked Biletsky why he hadn’t deployed his regiment to deal with the crooks in parliament. Biletsky sidestepped the question, reminding the crowd instead of the importance of voting.

Source: https://harpers.org/archive/2021/01/the-armies-of-the-right-ukraine-militias/

What does "reminding the crowd instead of the importance of voting" mean?

Does it mean Biletsky reminded the crowd of something else other than the importance of voting?

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    Hi TooSchool. Welcome to ELL! It means, "Instead of answering the question, he reminded the crowd it was important to vote." Or "He ignored the question and (instead) reminded the crowd that voting was important." To sidestep something means to avoid it deliberately. We sometimes say, 'He dodged the question.' By reminding the crowd to vote perhaps he was changing the subject. He evidently doesn't want to say why he didn't deploy his regiment. (No: he didn't remind them of anything else.) – Old Brixtonian Jan 16 at 3:45
  • Uhhhh, I misunderstood the sentence. Thank you for your explanation :). – TooSchoolForCool Jan 16 at 22:32
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It's a bit of an unusual/clunky phrasing. It might be better understood if written as:

Biletsky sidestepped the question, instead reminding the crowd of the importance of voting.

i.e. instead of answering the question, he reminded the crowd of the importance of voting.

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  • I see, thank you so much!!! For me, the original sentence is really confusing and misleading, it is much more readable after you rephrase it :). – TooSchoolForCool Jan 16 at 22:37
  • Yes it's what we call a "garden path" sentence, where it's "leading you down the garden path" in one direction, but suddenly turns another way and you have to start again. – elliotcm Jan 16 at 22:55

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