Russian politician calling for peace in Ukraine barred from country's presidential race

 Thousands of Russians expressed support for Boris Nadezhdin through signed petitions

  • Liberal Russian politician Boris Nadezhdin has lost an appeal against a decision to bar him from the country's upcoming presidential election.
  • Nadezhdin's main campaign slogan focused on preventing conflict in Ukraine.
  • Thousands of Russians expressed support for Nadezhdin through signed petitions.
  • A liberal Russian politician lost an appeal on Thursday challenging a decision by election authorities to bar him from taking part in next month's vote, which President Vladimir Putin is almost certain to win.

Boris Nadezhdin had made stopping the conflict in Ukraine his main campaign slogan and his withdrawal from the race signaled that officials would not tolerate any public opposition to the Kremlin's actions.

Russia's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Nadezhdin's appeal against technical aspects of last week's Central Election Commission decision barring him from the March 15-17 presidential election. The court is yet to consider his other appeal against the commission's decision.

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Thousands of Russians across the country signed petitions in support of Nadezhdin's candidacy, an unusual show of support in a strictly controlled political landscape. Nadezhdin, a local lawmaker from a town near Moscow, submitted 105,000 signatures to the Central Election Commission to qualify for the race.

The commission declared last week that more than 9,000 signatures submitted by Nadezhdin's campaign were invalid – enough to disqualify him. Russia's election rules state that potential candidates cannot throw out more than 5% of their submitted signatures.

Speaking to the commission last week, Nadezhdin asked the commission to postpone its decision and said, "Hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens who put their signatures for me are behind me." Election officials refused..

Putin, 71, who is running as an independent candidate, relies on the tight control over Russia's political system he has established during his 24 years in power.

With major critics who might challenge him either jailed or living abroad and most independent media banned, Putin's re-election is almost certain. He faces token opposition from three other candidates nominated by Kremlin-friendly parties represented in parliament.

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