[JURIST] The Russian Central Election Commission [official website] issued a unanimous decision Sunday to ban former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile] from running in the March presidential election. The Election Commission found that hundreds of thousands of signatures he had to submit in support of his candidacy were either forged or incorrect. Under Russian law, no more than 5 percent of signatures in support of a candidate can be disqualified if that candidate is to run in the election. In Kasyanov's case, 13.36 percent were rejected. Russian prosecutors said earlier this month that they had launched a forgery investigation [JURIST report] into Kasyanov.
Kasyanov has accused Russian President Vladmir Putin of directly refusing to register his candidacy. Dmitry Medvedev [BBC profile], chairman of Russian gas company Gazprom [corporate website], and Putin's handpicked successor is leading all major opinion polls, while Kasyanov was polling at less than 1 percent. BBC News has more.