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6 Jan 2024
Breitbart London

NextImg:Russia Approves Two 'Challengers' to Putin in Presidential Election

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s national elections commission on Friday registered the first two candidates who will compete with President Vladimir Putin in the March election that Putin is all but certain to win.

The commission approved putting Leonid Slutsky of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov of the New People Party on the ballot for the March 15-17 vote.

Neither poses a significant challenge to Putin, who has dominated Russian politics since becoming president in 2000. Both candidates’ parties are largely supportive in parliament of legislation backed by Putin’s power-base United Russia party.

Slutsky, as head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, has been a prominent backer of Kremlin foreign policy that is increasingly oppositional to the West. In the last presidential election in 2018, the party’s candidate tallied less than 6% of the vote.

Davankov is a deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, the Duma. His party was established in 2020 and holds 15 seats in the 450-member Duma.

The Communist Party has put forth Nikolai Kharitonov as its candidate, but the elections commission has not formally registered him. Kharitonov was the party’s candidate in 2004, finishing a distant second to Putin.

A Russian politician calling for peace in Ukraine was rejected last month from the presidential ballot.

The elections commission refused to accept Yekaterina Duntsova’s initial nomination by a group of supporters, citing errors in the paperwork, including spelling. The Supreme Court then rejected Duntsova’s appeal against the commission´s decision.

Putin is running as an independent, and his campaign headquarters, together with branches of the ruling United Russia party and a political coalition called the People’s Front, have collected signatures in support of his candidacy. Under Russian law, independent candidates must be nominated by at least 500 supporters, and must also gather at least 300,000 signatures from 40 regions or more.