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Russian Supreme Court Rejects Navalny Appeal On Presidential Election Ban

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

The Russian Supreme Court has upheld its decision to reject an appeal by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny against a decision to bar him from running in Russia's 2018 presidential election.

The court said on January 6 that its decision on December 30 to uphold a ruling five days earlier by Russia's Central Election Commission that the anticorruption crusader isn't eligible to run "remains without change, and the appellate complaint of the administrative plaintiff, without satisfaction."

The court said the decision by the Central Election Commission fully conforms to law.

A lawyer for Navalny said the politician will appeal to the presidium of the Supreme Court and could take the case on to the Constitutional Court if need be.

Previously, Navalny's lawyers have said he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Navalny is barred from running for office because of a conviction in a fraud case, which has been viewed as political retribution.

Following his disqualification, Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the March 18 presidential vote.

He has also announced plans to hold protests across Russia on January 28 to press home his call for a boycott of the election.

The Kremlin has said such boycott calls should be reviewed by officials to see whether they break the law.

President Vladimir Putin is set to easily win a fourth term in office in the election, with his approval ratings topping 80 percent.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is seeking a new six-year term in the election.

Over the past year, Navalny has mounted a grassroots campaign across Russia.

Presidential campaigning officially started in Russia on December 18.

More than 20 people have declared their intention to run in the March election, including liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, business ombudsman Boris Titov, and journalist and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak.

While none of the candidates poses a serious challenge to Putin, analysts say the Kremlin is worried about voter apathy and has focused on ways to boost turnout to make Putin's expected victory as impressive as possible.

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