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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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Kremlin pours cold water over Navalny’s presidential bid

Navalny for presidential race

Share on Facebook December 25, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 506

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MOSCOW, Russia - Despite receiving the support of thousands of his supporters, who led a rally in various cities of Russia on Sunday, endorsing the top Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, the 41-year-old lawyer, has been barred from entering the presidential race.

On Monday, the state-run media outlet RIA-Novosti reported that Russian officials had barred the activist Navalny from entering the country's presidential race.

The decision came a day after he held nomination gatherings to kick off his run in 20 Russian cities. 

On Sunday, his supporters gathered to formally nominate his candidacy in the presence of electoral officials to boost his chances of making the vote.

While Russian electoral officials had maintained that "only a miracle" would help him get registered, as he has been deemed ineligible to run due to a criminal conviction, his supporters filed his nomination with election officials, putting pressure on the Kremlin to allow him to run.

Navalny, who has been Putin's most formidable foe in all of his 18 years in power, claims that the criminal conviction is largely a political retribution. 

However, despite the conviction, he could run if he gets a special dispensation or if the conviction is canceled.

On Sunday, over 800 of his supporters gathered for a formal endorsement meeting in a giant marquee in Moscow. 

Election authorities soon observed the endorsement and Navalny's representative filed the papers with the Election Commission later in the day.

Then, on Monday, RIA-Novosti reported that Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) had rejected Navalny's registration, citing a previous embezzlement conviction.

CEC member Boris Ebzeev said in a statement, "Firstly, a citizen who has been sentenced to imprisonment for committing a grave or especially grave crime and who has an outstanding conviction for the said crime, has no right to be elected president of the Russian federation.”

For many analysts and experts, the news did not come as a surprise. 

Navalny's candidacy was unlikely from the start since Russian law prevents convicted criminals from running for public office.

Navalny would be running against incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who announced earlier this month, at his annual press conference, that he would seek reelection as an independent candidate.

The 65-year-old leader is now seeking a fourth presidential term, which would extend his rule until 2024 and make him the longest-serving Russian leader since dictator Joseph Stalin.

Announcing his bid, Putin said his aim was for Russia to have a "competitive" and "balanced" political system, but it wasn't his responsibility to create political opponents.

Putin said, “I want this and I will strive for a balanced political system and that is impossible without competition in the political field."

Since 1999, Putin has been either the Prime Minister or President of Russia.

Commenting on why Russia lacked effective opposition leaders, Putin said most of the current opposition figures were more focused on "making noise" instead of a genuine agenda that could benefit the country.

Meanwhile, on Monday, in response to the CEC's decision, Navalny called for a boycott of the March 2018 election.

Navalny said, "We are announcing a voters' strike. The procedure in which we are invited to participate is not an election. It involves only Putin and those candidates whom he personally chose, who do not pose the slightest threat to him."

 

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