Boris Nadezhdin: Putin's rival submits his candidacy for the Russian presidency

  • Written by Laura Josi and Vitaly Shevchenko
  • BBC News

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Boris Nadezhdin thanked his supporters when he presented the signatures

Kremlin rival Boris Nadezhdin said he has collected enough signatures to run in Russia's upcoming presidential election.

The former lawmaker has become known for his relatively outspoken criticism of Putin and the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nadezhdin said he had delivered more than 100,000 requested signatures to electoral authorities.

The Electoral Commission must now review his application.

If any “irregularities” are found in any of the signatures submitted, the committee can disqualify the candidate completely. Independent politician Yekaterina Dontsova was disqualified from running last December, when the electoral commission said it found 100 “errors” in her form.

Current President Vladimir Putin has already registered as an independent candidate for elections scheduled for March, which will almost certainly see him win another six-year term.

Shortly after the deadline for submitting signatures today, Nadezhdin posted a photo of himself standing in front of several boxes containing papers bearing the signatures of his supporters.

He previously wrote on Twitter: “This is my pride – thousands of people worked over long, sleepless days. The results of the queues in which you stood in the bitter cold are in those boxes.”

Thousands of Russians lined up in the cold across the country to add their signature to the list of people supporting his bid.

Nadezhdin, 60, a member of the Duma from 1999 to 2003, has been nominated to run in the elections by the center-right Civic Initiative party in December 2023.

He has long been a frequent guest on talk shows on state television channels, where he has often criticized Russia's war on Ukraine.

In a country where opposition figures have been imprisoned or even assassinated, his recent criticism of Putin appears to have been tolerated so far.

When asked about Nadezhdin earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We do not see him as a competitor.”

Nadezhdin told the BBC's Newshour program on Tuesday that he had “no fear” about running in the election, although he also said elections in Russia were “neither free nor fair.”

In response to a question about his criticism of the war in Ukraine, he said that the invasion of the country was a “huge mistake” that led to him being “dragged.” [Russia] On the path to tyranny and isolation.”

“First we have to finish killing each other and then there will be very long negotiations on the borders,” he said.

Even if Nadingden is allowed to run, it is not yet known whether he will be allowed to campaign freely.

In Vladimir Putin's Russia, candidates were previously able to run in elections when it was generally assumed they had no chance, sometimes not even campaigning against the incumbent president.

This maintains a façade of democracy, and in Nadezhdin's case this would allow Russians dissatisfied with the “special military operation” to vent their anger and frustration in a way that does not threaten Putin's rule.

In recent years, truly popular opposition figures – such as Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin – have been handed long prison sentences. Others were killed, such as Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, to whom Nadezhdin once served as an adviser.

Vladimir Putin has dominated Russia's political scene since 2000. In 2020, a constitutional amendment was passed allowing him to remain in power after 2024.

A win in March would see him remain president until 2030. After that, he would likely serve another six years until 2036 if he decided to run again.

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