© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 9, 2024. Sputnik/Sergei Ilyin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
(Reuters) – Russia’s registration of candidates for the March presidential election has closed, TASS reported on Sunday, with a list including President Vladimir Putin, who is expected to win, and three politicians who all support Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
The list did not include the Russian anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin after the Central Election Commission (CEC) barred him on Thursday from running, saying it had found flawsin the collection of signatures required for the support of his candidacy.
The CEC registered Vladislav Davankov, deputy chair of the Russian Duma and a member of the New People caucus; Leonid Slutsky, the leader of the Kremlin-loyal ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR); and the Communist Party nominee, Nikolai Kharitonov.
Putin, 71, who has chosen to run as an independent rather than as the candidate of the ruling United Russia party and who has been Russia’s paramount leader since 2000 and controls all the state’s levers, is expected to easily win next month’s vote.
While nobody has expected the 60-year-old Nadezhdin – who has characterised Putin’s war in Ukraine as a “fatal mistake” – to win, his trenchant criticism has surprised some analysts. The Kremlin has said it does not see him as a serious rival to Putin.
Nadezhdin said on Thursday he would challenge the CEC’s decision in Russia’s Supreme Court.
The war, which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”, is nearing the end of its second year. It has killed thousands on both sides, displaced millions of Ukrainians, and turned scores of cities and villages into rubble.