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Russia’s election commission has rejected anti-war challenger Boris Nadezhdin as a candidate in next month’s presidential vote.
Mr Nadezhdin has been relatively critical of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale war in Ukraine when few dissenting voices have been tolerated in Russia.
He had tried to challenge claims by the election commission that more than 15% of the signatures he submitted with his candidate application were flawed.
But the commission rejected his bid.
Refusing to give up, Mr Nadezhdin said on social media that he would challenge the decision in Russia’s Supreme Court.
“I collected more than 200,000 signatures across Russia. We conducted the collection openly and honestly.”
The Central Election Commission said that more than 9,000 signatures submitted by Mr Nadezhdin were invalid.
That left 95,587 names, meaning he was just short of the 100,000 required signatures to register as a candidate, commission member Andrei Shutov said.
Russia’s presidential election is due to take place from 15-17 March, although the result is not in doubt as only candidates approved by the Kremlin are running.
Read Steve Rosenberg:How Russians view looming elections
A final decision on who can take part in the election will come on Saturday.
Boris Nadezhdin is one of the few government critics whose voices have been heard on the ubiquitous talk shows on state-run TV since the invasion on 24 February 2022.
Although his run for the presidency has been viewed with suspicion by some opposition figures, Russia’s main opposition figure Alexei Navalny gave his backing to the Nadezhdin campaign from his jail cell inside the Arctic Circle.
Mr Nadezhdin appeared on BBC TV last month promising to end the war in Ukraine on his first day as president, although he was realistic about his chances of success.
“My first task will be to stop the conflict with Ukraine, and then to restore normal relations between Russia and the Western community.”
He is not the first presidential hopeful to have run on an anti-war platform. In December, former TV journalist and independent politician Yekaterina Duntsova was barred from running because the election commission said there were mistakes on her application form.
Source: BBC News