Russia’s Supreme Court has declined opposition and protest leader, Alexei Navalny’s appeal to be allowed to run for president in the March election, the court said on Friday.

A widely recognised, adamant opponent of long-time President Vladimir Putin, Navalny has exhausted his appeals for the case within the Russian justice system.

Russian electoral authorities had earlier ruled that Navalny could run in the election because of a previous conviction for financial crimes, for which he received a suspended sentence.

Navalny has denied wrongdoing and condemned the charges as trumped up to thwart his political ambitions.

He has called for a boycott of the election, and supporters have planned protests throughout the country on Sunday.

His grassroots campaign team said on Friday that members were recently detained in four cities around the country.

“Our boycott has become a real nightmare for the Kremlin,” the organisation said on Twitter.

Moscow city authorities emphasised on Friday that such a demonstration in the Russian capital had not been approved and threatened legal action against Navalny, according to comments carried by state media.

Navalny, who for years has led a galvanized protest movement driven by allegations of entrenched corruption in the upper echelon of Russian government, has been detained numerous times for violating rules against holding unsanctioned public gatherings.

Putin, in power as president or prime minister since 1999, is almost certain to win another six-year term as president on March 18.

In an another development, Russian journalist and human rights activist, Yekaterina Gordon, who was nominated by the Good Deeds Party as a candidate for the 2018 presidential election, decided to withdraw her bid on Friday.

On Dec. 27, Gordon submitted documents to Russian Central Election Commission (CEC).

On Jan. 4, she said that her election team had been actively involved in the process of collecting signatures necessary for her official registration as a presidential candidate.

“I will not participate [in the election],” Gordon said on Friday.

She also announced her plans to establish a constitutional democratic party.

“I would like to announce the creation of a constitutional democratic party of Russia,” she said, adding that the first branch offices of the party may open in the next few days in 10 Russian regions.

She did not specify exactly where these offices would be.

The programme of the party will be published soon, and its goals will include protecting the constitution and turning Russia into a “social state,” Gordon added.

Russian presidential election is scheduled to take place on March 18, while the presidential campaign kicked off on December 18.



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