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MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Russian opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny’s declared intent of running for the Russian presidency may be an attempt to manipulate the decision of a court that currently considers his embezzlement case, a Russian political expert told TASS.
On November 16, the presidium of Russia’s Supreme Court overturned the sentence against Navalny, who was earlier found guilty of embezzling funds belonging to the Kirovles company. The case was transferred to Kirov’s Leninsky district court for a retrial, which is already in progress.
"Navalny uses his potential possibility of a political action as an instrument to apply pressure on the court," said Konstantin Kostin, the chairman of the board of the Civil Society Development Foundation. "To try in court a blogger is one thing, but to try a person with a certain potential status is a different matter entirely."
The expert expressed doubt that Navalny can ever become a presidential candidate.
"I doubt that any parliamentary party will support his candidacy, and gathering the required number of signatures in support of his candidacy is the task that he is unlikely to solve," Kostin said.
He added that Navalny will have to gather the required 300,000 signatures in support of his candidacy not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where he has a number of supporters, but also in other Russian cities and towns.
Navalny announced his intention to run in the 2018 presidential race in a video message placed on the website of his nomination campaign on Tuesday.
His lawyer Vadim Kobzev has told TASS his client faces no legal obstructions to running for president at the moment. The sole factor that may bar Navalny from the election is his conviction in the Kirovles affair.
Russian presidential elections are to take place in March 2018. Under Russia’s electoral law, only parties that had won parliamentary seats in Russia’s State Duma or hold seats in at least two thirds of regional legislatures, do not need to gather at least 300,000 signatures in support of their candidate. Although people with a criminal record are allowed to run in the polls, former convicts cannot run for presidency for 10 years after their prison terms expired if convicted for a serious crime and for 15 years if convicted for a grave crime.