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Thousands of Russians Endorse Navalny to Challenge Putin in March Vote

Thousands of Russians Endorse Navalny to Challenge Putin in March VoteThousands of Russians Endorse Navalny to Challenge Putin in March Vote

Thousands of Russians on Sunday endorsed the candidacy of Alexei Navalny, seen as the only Russian opposition leader who stands a fighting chance of challenging strongman Vladimir Putin in a March vote.

Thousands of people who back the charismatic 41-year-old lawyer were meeting in 20 Russian cities to nominate him as a candidate in the presence of electoral officials to boost his chances of making the presidential vote, AFP reported.

In Moscow alone, more than 700 people supported Navalny’s candidacy as they gathered in a huge tent set up in a picturesque park on the snow-covered banks of the Moscow River.

“I am hugely happy, I am proud to tell you that I stand here as a candidate of the entire Russia,” the plucky western-educated lawyer told supporters at the Moscow event which at times felt like a US campaign conference.

“We are ready to win and we will win these elections,” Navalny said before finishing his speech in a cloud of confetti.

Two members of the Central Election Commission attended the Moscow event, Navalny’s campaign said.

Earlier Sunday supporters in other Russian cities also endorsed his candidacy, including more than 800 people in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, more than 900 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and over 700 in Novosibirsk in Siberia, his campaign said.

Electoral officials have deemed Navalny ineligible to run due to a criminal conviction, saying “only a miracle” would help him get registered.

Navalny hopes that popular support for his Kremlin bid would pressure authorities into putting his name on the ballot.

 

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