Russia’s presidential election will take place on March 18, the upper house of parliament said Friday, in polls that are all but certain to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin for a new six-year term. The election campaign will kick off on Monday, agencies quoted senators as saying. “According to our calculations there are already at least 23 people who have expressed a desire to stand,” said Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Election Committee, according to Interfax. Independent candidates are officially required to collect 300,000 signatures of support before they are allowed on the ballot paper.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has spent the last year gathering support for a Kremlin bid, is barred from running because of a criminal conviction that he says is politically motivated.
“Elections have officially been announced. All candidates should be allowed to stand. If not, we will not recognise them and will organise a voter boycott,” the 41-year-old lawyer said on Twitter.