Liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky is likely to be excluded from the Russian presidential race, election officials said Tuesday, in a move that will undermine the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin’s historic comeback. The Central Election Commission said it had examined 500,000 of the two million signatures the veteran leader of the Yabloko party submitted to take part in March 4 presidential elections and found that nearly a quarter of them had problems. “The number of signatures that have been deemed invalid and questionable gives the Central Election Commission grounds to deny registration” to Yabloko, Nikolai Konkin, a member of the election organisers, told reporters in televised remarks.
A commission spokesman told AFP officials would conclude examining a second and final sample of signatures later Tuesday before delivering their final decision. The limit for rejected signatures is five percent. The commission has in the past rejected signatures in support of anti-Kremlin candidates on various grounds. Analysts and opposition said Yavlinsky’s likely exclusion from the race would further undermine the credibility of a vote already weakened by emerging claims of campaign violations and the fraud-tainted December parliamentary polls that observers said were slanted in favour of Putin’s ruling party.
“This significantly weakens a list of candidates that has already been made artificially narrow and turns the election into a joke,” said political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, who used to work with the Kremlin.
Full Article: AFP: Putin’s liberal challenger faces poll exclusion.