Putin throws down gauntlet as top Communist politician barred from running against him

VLADIMIR PUTIN has tightened his grip on power by banning a leading Communist politician from running in September’s presidential election.

Vladimir Putin discusses possibility of third world war

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Farming magnate Pavel Grudinin was disqualified because he allegedly held shares in a foreign company – something parliamentary candidates are prohibited from doing under Russian law. He denies the claims and said the decision was politically motivated.

In 2018 he won 12 percent of the vote when he ran against Mr Putin.

Wary of his waning popularity among the country’s electorate, it appears the Russian leader did not want to risk losing votes to the communist.

In response, Mr Grudinin, third on the Communist Party’s candidate list, denied having foreign assets and said he was barred because of the votes he would win.

“The [Communist] Party is an opposition party,” he told Russian news agency Interfax.

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Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: Getty)

Opposition activist Alexei Navalny

Opposition activist Alexei Navalny (Image: Getty)

The party’s leader, Gennady Zyuganov, has vowed to appeal against the decision.

He told the agency: “Someone is afraid of the big impact that a union of left-wing forces could have.”

Tass news agency – a mouthpiece for the Kremlin – said that Mr Grudinin was suspected of holding shares in Bontro, an offshore company registered in Belize.

It was claimed that his ex-wife gave prosecutors documents proving his offshore assets.


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Russia have been accused of meddling in Ukraine’s civil war (Image: Getty)

The news emerged as the long-standing Russian President continues his campaign of intimidation ahead of the poll.

Winning it would secure the increasingly authoritarian leader another four years at the helm of the former Soviet Union.

But questions about his suitability to lead are increasingly being raised – even domestically among his once solid base.

Unlike in the early years of his presidency, living standards are falling and Russians continue to feel the impact of international sanctions.

Vladimir Putin

Mr Putin has been at the centre of Russian politics for decades (Image: Getty)

Many were imposed after the country illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.

Mr Putin’s continued meddling in Ukraine’s civil war and allegations that Kremlin-backed hackers have tried to influence Western elections have caused relations to deteriorate further.

The Salisbury Novichok poisoning was widely blamed on agents from Russia’s secretive GRU unit.

Opposition activist Alexei Navalny was later targeted with the same nerve agent and took weeks to recover in Germany.


The Russian agents blamed for the Salisbury Novichok poisoning (Image: Getty)

He has since returned to Russia – but was jailed instantly on charges he claims are politically motivated.

And while not able to stand – his presence will no doubt be felt in the country’s corridors of power as the election looms increasingly nearer.

Today it emerged that Russian authorities have restricted access to Mr Navalny’s website, as well as dozens of sites run by his close allies, his team claimed.

While Mr Putin may still win a fifth term – his position is undoubtedly weaker than in rosier times.

Roy Walsh

Roy Walsh

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