MOSCOW: The Kremlin’s top critic Alexei Navalny has slammed Russia’s March presidential election, in which he is barred from running, as a sham meant to “re-appoint” Vladimir Putin on his way to becoming “emperor for life”.
With two months to go before Russians vote in polls that are all but guaranteed to hand Putin a historic fourth term, the 41-year-old opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner spoke to AFP Tuesday in his campaign headquarters.
“This is not an election and my role will consist of explaining to people that this procedure, which they call an election, in fact is only held to re-appoint Putin,” he said.
“We will prove this and convince people that it’s impossible to recognise either these polls or this regime.”
Navalny last year mounted a national campaign, meeting thousands of people in cities across Russia, but in December the Central Election Commission said he could not take part due to a controversial embezzlement conviction which the opposition leader says is fabricated.
He is now ready to channel the force of his campaign team into persuading Russians to boycott the polls, calling his first major protest of this year on January 28.
“Putin wants to be emperor for life. His entourage, people who became billionaires and the world’s richest individuals, they want the same thing,” he said, vouching to continue his “political fight.”