Barred Russian candidate Yekaterina Duntsova will create own party

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Russian former city councilor and pro-peace politician Yekaterina Duntsova vowed to form a political party on Wednesday after authorities confirmed she would not be able to run in the elections in 2024.

The vote in March is expected to easily hand a fifth term to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with mostly Kremlin-friendly candidates allowed to run.

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Russia’s electoral commission on Saturday had rejected Duntsova’s application, citing “mistakes in documents” -- a decision upheld on Wednesday.

“The Supreme Court turned down my request to allow me to run for president. But we cannot give up and we will create our own political party!” Duntsova said on Telegram.

Duntsova would still not be able to run in the upcoming presidential vote even if she sets up a party.

But she said she wanted to form a movement for the “tens of millions” of Russians who wanted “a peaceful democratic future and simple common sense” but had no party representing them.

Candidates from political parties lacking MPs in the national parliament, like liberal opposition party Yabloko, have a less arduous procedure to participate in a presidential election than independents.

They have to gather signatures of 100,000 supporters by the end of January, while independent candidates have to find 300,000.

Duntsova said like-minded Russians could still support Boris Nadezhdin -- from the Civic Initiative Party -- gather the signatures to be a candidate.

Moscow has for years sidelined opposition figures from elections and political life, a clampdown that accelerated after the Kremlin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in 2022.

Igor Girkin, a hardline nationalist turned Kremlin critic who is in detention awaiting trial on extremism charges, has said he wanted to challenge Putin.

Jailed opposition figure, Alexei Navalny was barred from running in elections in 2018, due to an old fraud charge that his allies said was politically motivated.

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