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Putin critic Navalny clears first hurdle in bid for Russia presidency

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26th-Dec-2017       
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Reuters, Moscow :
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Sunday cleared the first hurdle towards taking part in next year's presidential election, even though the central election commission has previously ruled him ineligible to run.Navalny, 41, is a fierce opponent of President Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to win re-election in March, extending 17 years in power.
A veteran campaigner against corruption among Russia's elite, he won the initial support of 742 people at a gathering in a district of Moscow - above the minimum 500 required to initiate a presidential bid.
"There is no large-scale support for Putin and his rule in this country," Navalny told the meeting, describing himself as a "real candidate" for election and threatening a boycott of the vote by his supporters if he is barred from running.
On Sunday evening, Navalny submitted the documents to the central election commission needed to be registered as a candidate.
The commission, which extended its working hours on Sunday to take the documents, has five days in which to decide whether Navalny will be registered.
The commission has previously said he is ineligible due to a suspended prison sentence that he says was politically motivated.
"We are capable of opposing the current authorities. Our key demand is to be allowed to take part in the elections," Navalny told reporters as he was leaving the election commission building in the central Moscow.

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