Russian election officials have banned Putin’s main opposition rival from running for president prompting calls for it to be boycotted.
The Central Election Commission has decided unanimously that anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny is not eligible to run.
He is implicitly barred from running for office because of a conviction in a fraud case which has been viewed as political retribution.
He could have run if he was given a special dispensation or if his conviction was quashed.
The Central Election Commission has decided unanimously that anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny (pictured) is not eligible to run
Over the past year, Navalny has mounted a grassroots campaign which has reached out to the most remote corners of Putin’s heartland
Vladimir Putin is running for a fourth term in office and is widely expected to win the March 18 election.
Over the past year, Navalny has mounted a grassroots campaign which has reached out to the most remote corners of Putin’s heartland.
Navalny is the most serious challenger that Putin has faced in all his years in power, and the court cases against him have been viewed as a tool to keep him from running for office.
In a pre-recorded messaged that was released minutes after the Election Commission handed down the decision, Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the vote.
He said: ‘The procedure that we’re invited to take part is not an election. Only Putin and the candidates he has hand-picked are taking part in it.’
‘Going to the polls right now is to vote for lies and corruption.’
Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova told Navalny ahead of its vote to bar him that ‘maybe we would be interested if you were running’.
But he added that the conviction doesn’t allow the commission to put him on the ballot.
Speaking before the vote, Navalny told the commission that their decision to bar him would be a vote ‘not against me, but against 16,000 people who have nominated me, against 200,000 volunteers who have been canvassing for me’.