Top court upholds Russian election ban on opposition leader
Russia’s highest court yesterday upheld the election commission’s decision to bar opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president in the March election.
The supreme court in Moscow turned down Mr Navalny’s appeal against the move, ruling the decision to bar him fully conformed to Russian law.
President Vladimir Putin, whose approval ratings are more than 80 per cent, is set to easily win a fourth term in the March 18 vote.
Mr Navalny campaigned for the presidency all year despite an implicit ban on his candidacy due to a fraud conviction regarded by many as politically driven. Election officials formally barred him from the ballot on Monday. He responded to the ban by calling for a boycott of the ballot.
Mr Navalny responded to yesterday’s court ruling by repeating his call for a “voters’ strike”.
“We don’t acknowledge elections without competition,” he said on Twitter.
Others have said they will run, including campaign veterans – ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal Grigory Yavlinsky – as well as communist nominee Pavel Grudinin and TV host Ksenia Sobchak.
While none of them pose a challenge to Mr Putin, the Kremlin is worried about voter apathy and has focused on boosting turnout.
The involvement of Sobchak, 36, the daughter of the late mayor of St Petersburg who was Mr Putin’s boss in the 1990s, could raise public interest in the race.
She has denied colluding with the Kremlin but her participation could draw some of Mr Navalny’s supporters to her side and help to improve turnout.