Proving again that he’s the most clever of all, Russian strong man ensures that he will win his re-election bid next year by banning his chief rival from running.
Of course, it wasn’t Putin who directly banned his potential opponent. The Central Election Commission decided unanimously with a 12-0 vote that Alexei Navalny can’t be allowed to run for president.
Navalny, known as anti-corruption crusader, reacted by calling for a boycott ban of the vote.
The Central Election Commission decided that Putin’s rival cannot run on the grounds that he was convicted for a fraud case for which he received a five year suspended sentence. Some view it as nothing but political retribution.
Some also point out that 41-year-old Navalny could have still been allowed to run if he was given a special dispensation or if his conviction was canceled. He also maintains that the case against him was merely fabricated for political reasons.
Navalny would have been Putin’s strongest and most serious challenger to date. He has sucessfully mounted a grassroots campaign which has reached even the most remote areas of Putin’s heartland.
Putin’s critics say that the court case against Navalny is just a tool that Putin is using to keep his challenger from running for office.
Navalny quickly reacted with the Central Election Commission’s decision. He called his supporters in a pre-recorded message to boycott the election. He said: “The procedure that we’re invited to take part is not an election. Only Putin and the candidates he hand-picked are taking part in it. Going to the polls right now is to vote for lies and corruption.”
Navalny also told journalists that he and his supporters will not recorgnize the would-be result of the elections.
Before the commision’s vote came out, Navalny also said that a decision to bar him would be a vote “not against me, but against 16,000 people who have nominated me, against 200,000 volunteers who have been canvassing for me.”
Navalny would still appeal the commission’s decision. He held rallies on Sunday with a 15,000-strong people endorsing his candidacy.
Putin is running for his fourth term in office. He is expected to handily win his reelection bid next year.
Should Putin serve for a fourth term, he would have been in power already for a quarter of a century and will already make him Russia’s longest serving leader since Josef Stalin.