Former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov could be disqualified from running as a presidential candidate. The election commission says he has not collected two million valid signatures in support of his bid – the minimum required for all independent candidates. Earlier this week prosecutors opened a criminal case against him, accusing him of forging some of the signatures.
Kasyanov says he suspects the Kremlin is trying to avoid a proper contest. The March 2 poll is likely to be dominated by President Vladimir Putin’s choice – First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Kasyanov’s removal from the ballot would add weight to accusations that the election lacks legitimacy. Western observers said last year’s parliamentary poll was one-sided and unfair.