Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s calls for a boycott of next year’s presidential elections will require “scrupulous study to see whether or not they comply with the law.” Peskov’s comments follow a decision adopted by the Central Electoral Commission to bar Navalny from participating in the elections due to his conviction fraud.
In response Navalny, urged voters not to go to the polls in March.
“We declare a voters’ strike,” Navalny said in a video posted on his website and asked his supporters to persuade people to boycott the elections and organize the monitoring of polling stations to prevent fraud.
In February, a Russian court found Navalny guilty of embezzlement and sentenced him to a suspended five-year sentence. He denied the charges as politically motivated in order to prevent him from running for elections.
Navalny, who shot to fame as the founder of an anti-corruption foundation whose investigations into the shady affairs of the Russian political elite were widely viewed in Russia, announced his intention to compete for the presidency at the end of last year.
Putin, who is running as an independent and seeking a fourth term as president, presented his candidacy to the Electoral Commission on Wednesday. Although he has not given any explanation as to why he is running as an independent candidate observers believe it is an effort to distance himself from the low ratings of the ruling United Russia party.
Lacking any real opposition, Putin is widely expected to win the election which will see him remain at the helm of Russian politics until 2024.