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Liberal Yavlinsky, perennial Russian candidate, not running for president

Liberal Yavlinsky, perennial Russian candidate, not running for president

Prominent liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky, a candidate in numerous Russian elections since the 1991 Soviet collapse, will not run for president in the March 2 vote, his spokeswoman said Friday.
The decision reflects increasing discouragement among Kremlin opponents with Russia's political system after parliamentary elections this month in which government critics said President Vladimir Putin's United Russia had an unfair advantage and benefited from violations.
Leaders of Yavlinsky's Yabloko party will instead nominate Vladimir Bukovsky, a Soviet-era dissident who has been living in London for years, if he is registered as a candidate by the Central Election Commission, Yavlinsky's spokeswoman Yevgenia Dillendorf told The Associated Press.
Yabloko deputy chairman Sergei Mitrokhin said that if Bukovsky is not registered, the party will likely boycott the election _ meaning it would not support a candidate and presumably reject the result as illegitimate.
"Yabloko is ready to boycott the election, to not participate as a response to what happened on Dec. 2 _ to the lawlessness that was conducted instead of (parliamentary) elections," Mitrokhin told Ekho Moskvy radio.
But he said the party would support Bukovsky "out of moral considerations" if his candidacy is registered, "despite our position of not participating in the elections." Bukovsky has said he does not expect the authorities to allow him into the race.
Yavlinsky, a liberal economist who was among the leaders of Russia's democratic movement in the early 1990s, ran for president in 1996 and 2000, receiving about 7 percent and 6 percent of the votes, respectively.
He did not run in 2004, and Yabloko _ once a significant political force _ has failed to win seats in the last two parliamentary elections. It received 1.6 percent of the vote in the Dec. 2 elections, according to official figures _ far below the 7 percent needed to win seats.
According to the Interfax news agency, Yabloko declared Friday that it does not recognize the results of the parliamentary vote, in which Putin's United Russia party won 70 percent of the 450 seats in the State Duma, the lower legislative chamber.
"The scope of violations recorded by our observers and observers from other parties cast serious doubt on the legitimacy of the official results and the legitimacy of the parliament itself," said a statement adopted at a meeting of party leaders, as reported by Interfax. "An absolute majority of the violations was committed in favor of one party _ United Russia."
Yabloko's decision came a day after Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion who has become a vocal Putin opponent, said his presidential bid fell apart because supporters were prevented from renting a meeting hall to nominate him _ part of what he characterized as a Kremlin campaign to snuff out any real opposition.
Putin, who is barred from seeking a third straight term, on Monday backed his protege Dmitry Medvedev in the presidential race.
The endorsement virtually assures Medvedev's victory, given Putin's popularity and the Kremlin's powerful influence over the political system and the broadcast media.


Updated : 2021-05-14 10:34 GMT+08:00