Russia's Supreme Court has declined opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's appeal to be allowed to run for president in the March election, the court told the media on January 26.
A staunch opponent of longtime President Vladimir Putin, anticorruption crusader Navalny has exhausted his appeals for the case within the Russian justice system.
"On January 22, the judge decided against sending the appeal for consideration in a judicial hearing," the court told the Interfax news agency on January 26.
Russian electoral authorities had earlier ruled that Navalny cannot run in the election because of a previous conviction for financial crimes, for which he received a suspended sentence.
Navalny contends that the case against him was fabricated to punish him for his opposition activity and keep him out of elections.
He has called for a boycott of the election, and supporters have planned protests throughout the country on January 28.
His grassroots campaign team said on January 2 that members were recently detained in four cities around the country. "Our boycott has become a real nightmare for the Kremlin," the organization said on Twitter.
Moscow city authorities have emphasized that such a demonstration in the Russian capital had not been approved and threatened legal action against Navalny, according to comments carried by state media.
Police have repeatedly cracked down on demonstrations organized by Navalny in the past.
More than 1,000 people were detained in Moscow alone on March 26, 2017, when Navalny organized protests in some 100 cities nationwide.
Law enforcement authorities also cracked down hard at a protest in May 2012, the day before Putin -- who has been president or prime minister since 1999 -- returned to the Kremlin for his current term after a stint as head of the government.
Navalny has dismissed the election as the "reappointment" of President Vladimir Putin and is urging Russians not to vote.
With the Kremlin controlling the levers of political power nationwide after years of steps to suppress dissent and marginalize political opponents, it is virtually certain that the election will hand Putin a new six-year term.
Based on reporting by dpa and Interfax