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Russian ex-PM Kasyanov runs for president

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

MOSCOW, June 2 (Reuters) Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was nominated today by his opposition movement to run in next year's presidential election and promised to stop the Kremlin orchestrating the vote in its favour.

Polls show Kasyanov's liberal, pro-Western views are out of step with Russian public opinion and that most voters will back whichever Kremlin insider President Vladimir Putin endorses to replace him when he steps down.

Kasyanov was sacked by Putin in 2004 after four years at the head of his government, and he accused his former boss of stifling democratic freedoms and handing energy assets to a cabal of Kremlin favourites.

''Prosperity can be achieved in this country only through freedom and with this slogan we will go to victory,'' Kasyanov told about 500 delegates with his Russian Popular-Democratic Union who gathered in a Moscow hotel.

''I feel responsible for my country and that means I am ready to dedicate a part of my life to stopping this country from slipping into chaos,'' he said.

''It a question of the survival of this country as a democratic state.'' MEDICAL PROTEST A small group of protesters from a pro-Kremlin youth group, dressed in doctor's gowns, tried to storm the conference venue, saying Kasyanov was mentally ill and needed medical assistance.

Riot police held the protesters back, though one young man broke through and approached Kasyanov. ''He needs treatment,'' the protester said as security guards escorted him from the building.

Russian law requires Putin to step down when his second term ends. He has said voters will choose his successor in a free and fair election. Analysts name first deputy prime ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov as front-runners.

Kasyanov, who has emerged as the leading challenger from Russia's liberal opposition camp, said he expected his campaign to face resistance from the Kremlin.

Liberal opposition leaders are rarely given airtime on Russia's main television stations and their protest marches have been broken up by truncheon-wielding police.

His task is made harder because the opposition is split. The two biggest opposition parties, the Communists and nationalist LDPR, are likely to field their own candidates.

In the liberal opposition camp, Kasyanov's movement is only one of several groups. They have so far been unable to unite behind a single candidate.

REUTERS SG RK2015

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