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Putin rival's vote call may be breaking law: Kremlin

By AP Reporter

Russian officials should review opposition leader Alexei Navalny's calls for an election boycott to see if they might be breaking the law, the Kremlin has said.

In a widely anticipated decision, Russia's top election body ruled on Monday to formally bar anti-corruption crusader Mr Navalny from running in the presidential election next March.

Mr Navalny put out a video statement, saying the ban shows that President Vladimir Putin "is terribly scared and is afraid of running against me", and called on his supporters to stay away from the vote in protest.

Mr Putin, who has been in power for 18 years, announced his bid for re-election earlier this month, but so far has refrained from canvassing.

In contrast, his most prominent rival, Mr Navalny, has been campaigning all year - reaching out to the most remote parts of the country.

Opinion polls say Mr Putin should easily win the March vote.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not comment yesterday on the decision to bar Mr Navalny.

Belfast Telegraph

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