Forty-year-old Yekaterina Duntsova, a former journalist and city councillor campaigning “for peace and democratic processes,” will not be allowed to go on to the next stage of the campaign which President Putin is expected to win.
Russia's Central Electoral Commission – members of which are appointed by Putin and the Russian government – on Saturday rejected her application citing “mistakes in documents.”
The commission's chief, Ella Pamfilova, said members unanimously rejected Duntsova's bid, telling her: “You are a young woman, you have everything ahead of you.”
Duntsova had filed documents to stand in the March race as an independent candidate.
"A people's initiative is not needed, is not welcomed," Duntsova told journalists on Saturday, saying she would not have time to file another application as an independent candidate.
She wrote on social media that she would file an appeal against the ruling with the Supreme Court.
She also urged the leadership of liberal party Yabloko to nominate her as its candidate. Yabloko, Russia's oldest democratic party, "should not stand on the sidelines. Russians should have a choice", she wrote on Telegram.
Duntsova told journalists on Saturday "we are now waiting for some official, public answer on whether (Yabloko) are prepared to support me so we meet the deadline" of January 1.
Yabloko's co-founder Grigory Yavlinsky said in a YouTube video broadcast on Saturday that the party is not nominating any candidate.
The 71-year-old was unable to comment on Duntsova's request for nomination, saying he "had no idea" about her.
When announcing her candidacy last month, she said: “Like any normal person, I am afraid.”
She was immediately called in for questioning by state authorities.
Her manifesto said that she had decided to put her name forward because: “I love our country, I want Russia to be a democratic, prosperous and peaceful state.
“And now our country is moving in a completely different direction: away from rights and freedoms, away from love and peace, away from a wonderful future.”
She said that friends asked her if she seriously believed the election would result in change, whether she would be registered as a candidate and whether she was worried about being imprisoned as others had before.
She said: “Of course, I have no illusions about these ‘elections’, and, like any normal person, I am afraid.
“But I have hope that Russia can be changed democratically. I am sure that it is worth trying, that there are many of us and any attempt is better than inaction!”
Pamfilova said Saturday that 29 people have filed to run for the presidency.
Moscow has for years sidelined opposition figures from elections and political life, a clampdown that accelerated after the Kremlin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter