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Russia bars anti-war candidate Yekaterina Duntsova from challenging President Vladimir Putin | World News


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A former TV journalist hoping to challenge Vladimir Putin in Russia’s next presidential election has been barred from standing.

Independent politician Yekaterina Duntsova hoped to run on a platform to end the war with Ukraine.

But on Saturday, she was disqualified after members of the central electoral commission voted unanimously to reject her candidacy, citing “numerous violations” in the papers she had submitted in support of her bid.

Ms Duntsova, 40, said she would appeal against the decision at the Supreme Court, calling it unjustified and undemocratic.

She said: “With this political decision, we are deprived of the opportunity to have our own representative and express views that differ from the official aggressive discourse.”

President Putin’s critics said the decision showed that no one with genuine opposition views would be allowed to stand against him next March in the first presidential election since the start of the 22-month war.

The Kremlin claims Mr Putin will win because he enjoys genuine support across society, with opinion poll ratings of around 80%.

In a separate development, Russian news outlets said Boris Nadezhdin, an opposition politician who has been critical of Putin and the war, was put forward as a candidate on Saturday by the centre-right Civic Initiative party.

They said he planned to register with the electoral commission on 25 December, which is not a holiday in Russia.

The head of Russia’s electoral commission, Ella Pamfilova, said Ms Duntsova would not be allowed to progress to the next stage of gathering thousands of supporters’ signatures.

“You are a young woman, you have everything ahead of you. Any minus can always be turned into a plus. Any experience is still an experience,” she told Ms Duntsova after the rejection.

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Screenshots posted by a Telegram channel representing Ms Duntsova showed documents with signatures that it said the commission had highlighted as inadmissible.

Ms Duntsova appealed to veteran liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky to let her run as a representative of his Yabloko party rather than as an independent candidate, which would allow her to submit a new application.

But Mr Yavlinsky said in an interview on a YouTube channel that Yabloko was not planning to field a candidate and would not back Ms Duntsova “because we don’t know her”.

When Ms Duntsova announced last month she would run for presidency, she told: “Any sane person taking this step would be afraid – but fear must not win.”

In the interview, she called for the release of political prisoners and said Russians were “very tired” of the conflict in Ukraine.

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Ukrainian soldiers continue fight off assaults in freezing temperatures

With President Putin, 71, in full control of the levers of power, supporters and opponents alike say he will cruise to a new six-year term which, if he completes it, would make him Russia’s longest serving ruler since the 18th century – outlasting all Soviet rulers including Josef Stalin.

His best-known opponent, Alexei Navalny, is serving prison sentences totalling more than 30 years and his supporters say they do not even know where he is, after they were told he had been moved from his previous penal colony earlier this month.

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Written by: radioroxi

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