Putin’s Pro-Peace Opponent Vows Push to Stay on the Ballot

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Pro-peace Russian presidential hopeful Boris Nadezhdin vowed to continue fighting for a chance to appear on his country’s ballot in March after Moscow’s Central Election Commission (CEC) took issue with part of his application.

Nadezhdin, former member of the State Duma, has campaigned as a member of the Civic Initiative party as a “principled opponent” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and of his decision to invade Ukraine nearly two years ago. The candidate announced last week that he was filing papers to officially challenge Putin in the election after collecting at least 100,000 voter signatures, a requirement to appear on the ballot for candidates like Nadezhdin, whose political party is not officially recognized by Russia’s lower house of parliament.

But according to a post to Telegram by Nadezhdin’s campaign on Monday, the CEC said it found flaws in over 15 percent of the signatures turned in alongside his application. According to a report from Reuters, members of the election commission said three days prior that some of the names listed as Nadezhdin’s supporters were found to be dead. No more than 5 percent of the signatures can be found “defective” for a candidate to be included on the ballot.

Boris Nadezhdin, presidential hopeful in Russia, on Wednesday submits signatures collected in support of his candidacy in Moscow. Nadezhdin promised to fight for a chance to appear on Russia’s presidential ballot next month.

VERA SAVINA/AFP via Getty Images

“It will be enough for us to prove the eligibility of 4,500 signatures of the 9,209 that were recognized as invalid,” Nadezhdin wrote in a post to his Telegram channel. “If the Central Election Commission refuses to register me, I will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.”

Newsweek reached out to the Kremlin’s press office via email for comment on Monday night.

Putin, who is running for a fifth term, is anticipated to win reelection in March, despite facing pushback from figures like Nadezhdin on Moscow’s war on Ukraine. A recent survey by polling agency Russian Field found that 51.1 percent of Russian voters say that Putin best represents their interests. Nadezhdin came in second, but trailed far behind, earning only 2.3 percent of voters’ support.

Russia’s CEC is expected to make a final decision on Nadezhdin’s application to appear on the March 17 ballot on Wednesday. Putin’s reelection is also being challenged by former Russian Commander Igor Girkin, who is running his campaign from jail while he serves time for charges related to extremism.

Questions were briefly raised about Nadezhdin’s safety while challenging the incumbent following a comment by Vladimir Solovyov, a prominent ally of Putin who suggested during a broadcast last week that Nadezhdin could be “thrown into prison” or poisoned for running against the Kremlin.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, told Newsweek that the opinions of individuals like Solovyov do “not reflect an official position and not always can be perceived as the right one.”