[JURIST] The Russian Prosecutor General's office [official website, in Russian] said Tuesday it has launched a forgery investigation targeting former Russian prime minister and now opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov [BBC profile]. According to Russian news agencies, the investigation relates to allegations that signatures were forged on petitions nominating Kasyanov for the upcoming March 2 Russian presidential elections. A spokesperson for Kasyanov's campaign immediately characterized the investigation as politically motivated.
Kasyanov and fellow opposition leader Garry Kasparov [personal website, in Russian] have been strong critics of current Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] and his allies in the run-up to the March vote. Putin dismissed Kasyanov, a close associate of former president Boris Yeltsin, as head of government in February 2004 after a four-year tenure. Last November, Kasparov was detained for five days for organizing an unsanctioned protest [JURIST report] against Putin's policies and resisting arrest. AP has more.