Putin critic Alexei Navalny barred from Russian election
June 23, 2017
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been declared ineligible to take part in next year's presidential election. He's serving a suspended sentence in a case he says was organized to stop his political career.
Navalny has complained that the case, which saw him and a business partner found guilty in 2013 of misappropriating about 16 million rubles (446,488 euros, $500,000) worth of lumber from a state-owned company, was fabricated to stop his political career from flourishing.
Navalny, a lawyer, insists he is eligible to stand for election because he is serving a suspended sentence and is not a prisoner. He says the Russian constitution allows anyone who is not in jail to stand for election.
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Navalny has already opened campaign offices in several Russian cities to help him meet the required 300,000 signatures to enter the race. He is seen by many analysts as the main threat to Putin's strong grip on power.
Putin, who has been either prime minister or president since 1999, is expected to stand for a fourth term as president, but has yet to confirm his plans.
Current opinion polls suggest Putin would win by a wide margin despite Navalny's promise to unwind Russia's endemic corruption problem. But the opposition leader plans to harness the internet and visit less populous provinces in advance of the formal election campaign.
Navalny was allowed to stand for Moscow mayor in 2013, coming second to a pro-Kremlin candidate.
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