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Sobchak Gathers Signatures Needed To Register In Russia's Presidential Poll

Ksenia Sobchak addresses voters at her Berdsk election campaign office in Siberia on January 18.

Russian journalist and television personality Ksenia Sobchak has collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to register formally as a candidate in the country's March presidential election.

Sobchak's campaign reported on January 22 that volunteers working across the country had collected the necessary signatures. The campaign added that it would continue working until it collected at least 120,000 names before making its submission to the Central Election Commission.

The commission must then check the signatures and rule on their validity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term in the March 18 vote. Analysts note that Russian elections are heavily managed by the authorities and there is little doubt that Putin will be named the victor.

Opposition politician and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny has been barred from participating in the election because of a felony embezzlement conviction on charges he says were politically motivated.

Navalny has referred to the election as "the reappointment of Putin" and has called on voters to boycott the polls.

Sobchak, the daughter of Putin's mentor and former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, has positioned herself as an opposition figure. Kremlin critics contend that she and most other candidates are being used as window-dressing to create the appearance of political competition.

Other candidates include nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, and Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin.