YEKATERINBURG, Russia -- Two opposition parties in Russia's Sverdlovsk Oblast have been barred by the election committee from running in regional duma elections next month, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
Sverdlovsk regional election commission Chairman Vladimir Mostavshchikov told RFE/RL that Yabloko, one of the rejected parties, submitted 5,473 signatures in support of its application but 3,035 were deemed either "inauthentic" or "invalid," far more than the 10 percent threshold for invalid signatures that is allowed.
Maksim Petlin, Yabloko's branch leader in the West Siberian region, told RFE/RL he is convinced the commission received orders from "someone above" to reject Yabloko's candidate list. He said Yabloko has filed a complaint with the Central Election Commission in Moscow and is ready to challenge the decision in court.
Regional elections are scheduled for March 14.
The Sverdlovsk commission announced earlier that 80 percent of the signatures collected by the other rejected party, Just Cause (PD), were invalid. Unlike Yabloko, however, the PD has since decided not to participate in the elections.
Konstantin Kiselev, the PD's regional head, said all sponsors who had pledged to support the party in the elections have "unexpectedly" refused to finance the campaign. He said that under such conditions the decision not to participate is "absolutely rational."