Russia approves 2 candidates for ballot against Putin in March election

Russia’s national elections commission on Friday registered the first two candidates who will compete with President Vladimir Putin in the March election that Putin is all but certain to win.

The commission approved putting Leonid Slutsky of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov of the New People Party on the ballot for the March 15-17 vote.

Neither poses a significant challenge to Putin, who has dominated Russian politics since becoming president in 2000. Both candidates’ parties are largely supportive in parliament of legislation backed by Putin’s power-base United Russia party.

Slutsky, as head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, has been a prominent backer of Kremlin foreign policy that is increasingly oppositional to the West. In the last presidential election in 2018, the party’s candidate tallied less than 6 per cent of the vote.

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