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Election ban for Russian anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin


Russia's electoral commission has prohibited an anti-war candidate, who gained unforeseen traction, from competing against Vladimir Putin in the meticulously controlled presidential elections scheduled for March.

The National Electoral Commission has identified "irregularities" in over 9,000 out of the 100,000 signatures of support presented by Boris Nadezhdin. The result exceeded the acceptable 5% mistake rate by a factor of three, which justified the commission's decision to disqualify him.

Commenting on the verdict, the Kremlin said it had "nothing to add" and that the commission followed all the existing norms.

The verdict on Wednesday was widely anticipated. On Monday, it followed a statement by an electoral commission working group stating that 15% of the supporters' signatures were deemed invalid.

Recently, Nikolai Bulaev, the deputy head of the commission, said they had discovered 11 fraudulent signatures, which he called "dead souls."

Nadezhdin, an experienced statesman with connections to Kremlin officials and Putin's opposition, is now engaged in an eleventh-hour effort to get a spot on the election ballot. Thousands of Russians have braved frigid temperatures, standing for hours, to sign in favour of his candidature.

In his electoral platform, Nadezhdin said that Putin committed a "catastrophic error" by initiating the special military operation in Ukraine, which the Kremlin euphemistically refers to as its invasion. "Putin's perspective is rooted in the past, and he is leading Russia backwards," he said.

On Thursday, he announced his intention to contest the verdict against his candidature in the nation's highest court.

"I dissent with the judgement made by the federal election commission. "Engaging in the 2024 presidential election holds utmost significance as a political choice in my lifetime," he said on his Telegram platform. I am resolute in my intentions and will not retreat."

Given Putin's complete hegemony and authority over the state, it was improbable for Nadezhdin, a 60-year-old, to emerge victorious even if he were permitted to compete. However, his candidature has garnered significant attention due to his unequivocal opposition to the conflict in Ukraine.

Many supporters acknowledged that despite his previous affiliations with the government, they had no choice but to express their discontent with the war.

In addition, he garnered assistance from Alexei Navalny's supporters, who have mostly been incarcerated or forced to leave Russia. "Engaging in orderly queuing and endorsing Nadezhdin is a secure method of expressing dissent, and we fully endorse it," said Ruslan Shaveddinov, a trusted associate of Navalny.

Russian state media intensified its defamatory campaign against Nadezhdin in the last several weeks, highlighting the Kremlin's apprehension over the sudden surge of public support for a hitherto obscure politician.

Political observers believe that Nadezhdin's increasing popularity and efforts to engage with anti-war Russians who have sought refuge overseas have made his candidature politically awkward for the Kremlin.

The elections board has rejected Yekaterina Duntsova, a candidate who publicly opposes war, due to purported faults in her paperwork, such as spelling issues.

She and others have redirected their grassroots organising efforts to endorse Nadezhdin. Russia's electoral commission has officially approved four candidates, including Putin, for the next elections.

Putin is poised to get another six-year mandate in the March 15-17 elections, ensuring his stay in the Kremlin until at least 2030. If he continues to hold office until then, his term would exceed that of Joseph Stalin, who governed The Soviet Union for 29 years, making Putin the longest-serving leader in Moscow since the Russian empire.

Putin has secured past electoral victories by a significant margin, but impartial election monitors assert that extensive fraudulent activities tainted these elections.

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