Ex-PM Kasyanov barred from Russian presidential poll

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Moscow, Jan 27 (UNI) Russian Central Election Commission today barred former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov from contesting the March 2 presidential election.

The decision was made at the Commission's meeting, Interfax news agency reported.

Registration was denied to Mr Kasyanov after the Commission checked the lists of voters' signatures in his support as a presidential candidate and found 13.36 per cent invalid signatures, which is nearly three times more than the 5 per cent allowed.

Mr Kasyanov was Prime Minister under President Vladimir Putin, but has become one of the Russian leader's staunchest critics.

The Commission has registered four candidates, including Mr Dmitry Medvedev, nominated by the ruling United Russia party, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky and an independent candidate and leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, Andrei Bogdanov.

Mr Medvedev, Mr Putin's chosen successor, is expected to win the presidential race, as he has been leading recent opinion polls.

UNI XC SKB AS1517

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