Russia’s Central Election Commission has registered Mikhail Prokhorov as a presidential candidate.
Prokhorov said after the registration that he hopes “that Putin and I will be competing against one another in the election run off."
Prokhorov is usually rated Russia's third-wealthiest citizen. He calls for limited market reforms while refraining from direct criticism of Putin.
The Central Election Commission is expected to reject an application by opposition party leader Grigory Yavlinsky, citing allegedly invalid signatures on petitions needed to register him as a candidate.
Prokhorov claimed the registration procedures are too onerous.
"The current system [of candidate registration] is very restrictive and it should be abandoned or changed significantly," he said.
"I am for competition in politics, in the economy, and in the social sphere, so I think Grigory Yavlinsky must fight to the end."
The commission had earlier granted registration to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of the United Russia party, Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party, Sergei Mironov of A Just Russia party and Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal-Democratic Party.
Medvedev May Run Again
In related news, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he might run for president again following Vladimir Putin's anticipated return to the presidency.
Medvedev told journalism students at Moscow State University on January 25 that his decision not to seek a second term in the election scheduled for March was a matter of "political expediency."
But he noted that he is only 46 and refused to rule out "future political battles."
Putin is seeking a six-year term and would be eligible for reelection in 2018.
Medvedev also said he cannot rule out "an extreme scenario" for Russia's future, and said he was willing to meet with representatives of the country's political opposition.
Asked about jailed former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Medvedev said the president must respect the verdict of the court.
compiled from agency reports