Russia’s main electoral authority refused on Thursday to allow a politician opposed to Moscow’s military action in Ukraine to vote in next month’s presidential election.
Boris Nadezhdin, a local lawmaker in a town near Moscow, was required by law to collect at least 100,000 signatures to support his candidacy. This requirement applies to candidates nominated by political parties not represented in the Russian Parliament.
The Central Election Commission declared more than 9,000 signatures submitted by Nadezhdin’s campaign invalid, which was enough to disqualify him. Russian election rules state that potential candidates cannot have more than five percent of their submitted signatures rejected.
Nadezhdin, 60, openly called for an end to the conflict in Ukraine and the opening of a dialogue with the West. Thousands of Russians lined up across the country last month to sign papers in support of his candidacy, an unusual show of sympathy for the opposition in the country’s rigidly controlled political landscape.
Speaking before the Election Commission on Thursday, Nadezhdin asked election authorities to postpone the decision and give him more time to refute their arguments, but they refused. The politician said he would challenge his disqualification in court.
“It’s not me who’s here,” Nadejdin said. “Hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens who signed in my favor are behind me.”
The real opposition hampered
President Vladimir Putin is almost certain to be re-elected given his tight control over the Russian political system. Most opposition figures who could have challenged him were either detained or exiled abroad, and the vast majority of independent Russian media have been banned.
Putin is running as an independent candidate and his campaign was expected to collect at least 300,000 signatures of support. He was quickly cleared to get on the ballot earlier this year, with election officials disqualifying only 91 signatures out of 315,000 submitted by his campaign.
Three other registered candidates were nominated by parties represented in Parliament and were not required to collect signatures: Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, Leonid Slutsky of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov of the New People’s Party.
All three parties have largely supported the Kremlin’s policies. Kharitonov ran against Putin in 2004, finishing far behind.
Exiled opposition activists supported Nadejdin last month, calling on their supporters to sign his inauguration petitions. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin did not consider Nadezhdin a rival to the outgoing president.
On Thursday, Nadezhdin urged his supporters not to give up.
“One thing happened that many could not believe: citizens sensed the possibility of changes in Russia,” the politician wrote in an online statement. “It was you who stood in line to declare to the whole world: ‘Russia will be a great and free country.’ And I represented each of you today in the auditorium of the Central Election Commission.
Nadejdin is the second pro-peace hopeful to be denied a presidential candidacy. In December, the election commission refused to certify Ekaterina Duntsova’s candidacy, citing problems such as spelling errors in her nomination materials.
Duntsova, a journalist and former lawmaker from the Tver region north of Moscow, announced last year her intention to challenge Putin in March elections. Promoting a vision of a Russia that is “peaceful, friendly and ready to cooperate with everyone on the principle of respect”, she said she wanted the fighting in Ukraine to end quickly and for Moscow and kyiv to participate in negotiations. painting.
The presidential election is scheduled for March 15-17.