Russia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Saturday from opposition leader Alexei Navalny to run for president. One week after a lower court upheld a ruling by the Central Election Commission, which rejected his application to stand, the country’s high court backed the decision, citing a criminal conviction against the opposition leader. Navalny insists the embezzlement conviction against him is nothing more than a politically-motivated frame-up to keep him from running. Russia’s constitution prohibits anyone with a criminal conviction from seeking high office. President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win the March election but, without Navalny, he faces only token opposition. Putin has been in office — as either president or prime minister — for nearly 20 years. Should he win re-election, Putin will become Russia’s longest-serving leader since dictator Josef Stalin.
Russian news agencies said Navalny’s campaign team will continue his efforts to reverse the ban.
“We will appeal today’s Supreme Court ruling at the Presidium but also at Russia’s Constitutional Court,” Navalny’s representative Ivan Zhdanov told Interfax news agency.
“In theory, Navalny still has a chance of taking part in the election, but in reality they are negligible,” he added.