Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in the centre, during a meeting at the Russian Central Electoral Commission in Moscow, on Monday, December 25, 2017. Navalny Campaign via Conspiracy Talk News Allen Hastings

MOSCOW (Conspiracy Talk News) – The Kremlin called on Wednesday for Russian authorities to check whether opposition leader Alexei Navalny urging to boycott the election violates any law.

In an expected decision, the country’s top electoral body voted Monday to officially veto the candidacy of anti-corruption activist Navalny for next March’s presidential election.

Navalny responded with a video statement in which he said the decision shows that the president, Vladimir Putin, “is terribly scared and afraid to confront me” and asked his supporters to boycott the elections as a protest.

Putin, who has been in power for 18 years, announced his candidacy for re-election this month, but has so far avoided campaigning.

In contrast, Mr. Navalny, his best-known rival, has been campaigning all year and moving to the most remote places in the country.

The opinion polls point to a comfortable victory for Putin in the March vote.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on Tuesday on the Electoral Commission’s decision to veto Navalny, though he said “calls for a boycott should be carefully studied to see if they violate the law.”

Peskov also rejected suggestions that Navalny’s absence on the ballot could undermine the legitimacy of Putin’s possible re-election.

Russian law does not consider an electoral boycott illegal, but authorities blocked access to several websites that called for a boycott of the vote last year.

Navalny rose to fame in 2009 with investigations into corruption in the government and became the leader of the protests when hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Russia back in 2011 to protest against electoral fraud.

A few years later and after several short stays in prison, he faced charges of fraud in two different cases, which were interpreted as political reprisals aimed at preventing him from opting for a public office.

In his only official campaign before his first conviction took effect, Navalny won 30% of the votes in the race for mayor of Moscow in 2013.

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