Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has got the endorsement for his nomination bid for the presidential election in March 2018.
Some 800 people gathered for meeting on Sunday for the formal endorsement of Navalny for presidency.
Russian law requires a candidate to submit an endorsement from just 500 people and then he would be allowed to collect the 1 million signatures to get a place on the ballot paper. Navalny’s filing of nomination could be accepted by the authorities but he would certainly be barred from the ballot over a criminal conviction.
The opposition figure is viewed by supporters as a main challenge to President Vladimir Putin
’s bid for reelection. Putin is almost guaranteed a win as opinion polls suggest he has the support of 80 percent of Russian voters. The Russian leader is to contest the upcoming elections as an independent and should follow the same procedure as Navalny. Similar events for endorsement of potential candidates were held in 19 Russian cities on Sunday.
Navalny said in his campaign speech, which was held in a giant marquee on the snow-covered riverside in Moscow, that he would certainly win the votes if allowed to contest.
“We have seen for ourselves this year that overwhelming support for authorities simply isn’t there,” he said.
Navalny also called on supporters to boycott the vote if the Election Commission barred him over the criminal conviction which has repeatedly slammed as a political retribution led by the Kremlin.
“We are not going to recognize this election but we’re not going to step aside either: there will be an all-Russian strike of voters,” said Navalny who should now try to cancel his conviction or receive a special dispensation to be allowed in the vote.