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Russian opposition candidate Mikhail Kasyanov, barred from presidential polls, could
Russian opposition candidate Mikhail Kasyanov, barred from presidential polls, could run if the Supreme Court overturns a ruling by election authorities, the top election official said on Monday.

Former prime minister Kasyanov was denied registration for the March 2 election last week, when the Central Election Commission (CEC) said over 13% of signatures he collected to support his presidential bid were faked or unverifiable. His support team rejected the forgery claims as "political pressure."

"He has 10 days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court, and if the court takes a decision [on Kasyanov's bid] that differs from ours, the candidate will be entered on the ballot papers," CEC Chairman Vladimir Churov said on the Vesti news channel.

Kasyanov's campaign chief Konstantin Merzlikin said on Sunday the candidate's supporters do not so far plan to appeal the election authorities' decision, saying the Supreme Court is "part of the vertical of power" and is unlikely to make a decision in Kasyanov's favor.

Under Russian law, a presidential candidate has to collect at least 2 million signatures in his or her support. Invalid signatures cannot exceed 5% of the total.

Four candidates have passed registration procedures ahead of presidential elections: First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Andrei Bogdanov, the leader of the tiny pro-Western Democratic Party.

Medvedev, who has been publicly backed by President Putin, is the clear front-runner.


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