Would-be challenger Duntsova barred from running against Putin in election

Would-be challenger Duntsova barred from running against Putin in election
Would-be challenger Duntsova barred from running against Putin in election

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - File photo of Yekaterina Duntsova, a former regional journalist who plans to run for Russian president in the March 2024 election, speaking with journalists after meeting officials of the Central Election Commission to submit documents at an office in Moscow, Russia, December 20, 2023. ― Reuters pic

MOSCOW, Dec 23― Former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova was barred today from running against President Vladimir Putin in an election next March because of alleged mistakes in her application to register as a candidate.

Video from a meeting of the central electoral commission showed members voting unanimously to reject her candidacy.

The head of the commission, Ella Pamfilova, was then shown offering words of consolation to Duntsova.

“You are a young woman, you have everything ahead of you. Any minus can always be turned into a plus. Any experience is still an experience,” Pamfilova said.

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Screenshots posted by Duntsova’s campaign channel showed documents that it said the commission had highlighted as lacking proper signatures.

The move came only three days after Duntsova, 40, had presented documents to the commission in support of her bid. She had planned to run on a platform of ending the war in Ukraine and freeing political prisoners.

The immediate torpedoing of her campaign will be seized on by Putin’s critics as evidence that no one with genuine opposition views will be allowed to stand against him in the first presidential election since he launched the war in Ukraine. They see it as a fake process with only one possible outcome.

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The Kremlin says Putin will win because he enjoys genuine support across society, with opinion poll ratings of around 80 per cent.

When Duntsova said last month that she wanted to stand, commentators had variously described her as crazy, brave, or part of a Kremlin-scripted plan to create the appearance of competition.

“Any sane person taking this step would be afraid - but fear must not win,” she told Reuters in an interview in November. ― Reuters

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