Russia: Election Commission vetoes opposition candidates

The election commission of Russia This Thursday he blocked the pacifist candidate Boris Nadezhdin, who wanted to run for president next month, as he himself announced on social networks.

President Vladimir Putin faces another six-year term in elections on March 15-17in which the most important opposition politicians were banned.

“The Central Election Commission refused to register my candidacy for president of the Russian Federation,” Nadezhdin, 60, said in a Telegram message.

“Participating in the 2024 presidential election is the most important political decision of my life. I will not give up on my intentions. I will appeal the Central Election Commission’s decision to the Supreme Court,” he added.

At a hearing on Thursday in Moscow The electoral authorities unanimously refused to register Nadezhdin’s candidacysaid an AFP journalist present at the meeting.

The election commission claims to have found defects in more than 9,000 of the 105,000 signatures for Nadezhdin’s candidacy.

This exceeds the allowable margin of error of 5%.

His chances of overturning the decision on appeal appear to be nil, as the Kremlin exercises total control over Russia’s electoral processes.

Before the decision, Nadezhdin’s team said that among the alleged “deficiencies” the commission found were minor typographical errors in the transfer of handwritten signatures to a computer.

Second behind Putin

The 60-year-old opposition leader’s calls to stop the military offensive in Ukraine led many Russians to support his election candidacy last month.

Images of long lines of people waiting to sign for his nomination exposed the Kremlin’s narrative as Russian society stands united behind Putin’s campaign against Kiev.

At the hearing in central Moscow on Thursday Nadezhdin assured that “tens of millions of people” would vote for him. “I’m second, behind Putin”he defined.

The normally fragmented Russian opposition had expressed support for Nadezhdin, from jailed critic Alexei Navalny to exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In their opinion, this was the only legal and safe way to protest against the Kremlin.

Since the start of its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has further restricted its already strict laws against dissent and sent dozens of people to prison for speaking out against this intervention.

In an interview with AFP in January, Nadezhdin called the conflict in Ukraine “catastrophic” and said he wanted to free “political prisoners” in Russia.

As a local deputy in a town on the outskirts of Moscow, Nadezhdin spent most of his 30-year political career at the local level.

He also served as an adviser to well-known figures, mostly from opposition groups, although he was close to the Kremlin during Putin’s first years in power.

The Russian presidency has not hidden its contempt for its opponent. “We do not consider him an opponent,” Dmitry Peskov, the presidential spokesman, said in late January.

On Thursday, he emphasized that the election commission had found “a large number of errors in Nadezhdin’s signatures.”

“This is an important criterion that was not met,” emphasized Peskov. “The commission clearly follows the rules set for candidates,” he added.

Putin, 71, has led Russia as president or prime minister since 1999.

During his more than two decades in power, he has suppressed all major internal opposition, banned independent media and protests, and curtailed political and civil liberties.

Only three other candidates are running in next month’s election, all from supposed opposition parties that have the Kremlin’s endorsement.

In 2020, Putin pushed through controversial constitutional changes to reset presidential term limits, paving the way for him to remain in power until 2036.

AFP

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