[JURIST] The Russian Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] Tuesday rejected the appeal of former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov [personal website, in Russian; BBC profile] to reinstate his candidacy in the March Russian presidential election. Last week, the Russian Central Election Commission banned Kasyanov from running in the election [JURIST report], rejecting 13.36 percent of signatures he submitted in support of his candidacy as 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. The Supreme Court conducted a one-day hearing before ruling in support of the Commission decision. A spokeswoman for Kasyanov said that both decisions "ignored the views of citizens." Russian prosecutors said earlier this month that they had launched a forgery investigation [JURIST report] into Kasyanov.
Kasyanov was an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] and his allies in the run-up to last December's parliamentary elections. Kasyanov has accused Putin, long charged with suppressing dissent, of directly refusing to register his candidacy. Kasyanov was not expected to pose a serious challenge in the March election, polling at less than 1 percent. Putin-backed Dmitry Medvedev [BBC profile], chairman of Russian gas company Gazprom [corporate website], leads all major opinion polls. Reuters has more.