Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin
Russian electoral authorities have disqualified a top Communist Party candidate from running in September’s parliamentary elections, the latest opposition figure to be barred ahead of the vote.
The Central Election Commission said on July 24 that Pavel Grudinin was excluded from the party list because the Prosecutor-General’s Office had found he held foreign assets.
Grudinin took second place with 12 percent of the vote when he challenged Vladimir Putin in the 2018 presidential election.
After the election, he became a target of pro-Kremlin media, his agri-business began to face legal troubles, and he was stripped of his deputy mandate in the city council of Vidnoye, near Moscow.
A wealthy businessman, Grudinin denied he holds any foreign assets, which according to law is not allowed for candidates.
The Communist Party linked his disqualification to the prospect of opposition parties securing strong results in September against the ruling United Russia party, which has seen its support drop in polls.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov vowed to appeal the election commission’s decision and said Grudinin would remain third on the party’s candidate list.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office said it became aware of Grudinin’s alleged foreign assets only because his ex-wife, Irina, came forward with documents showing he owns shares in a Belize-registered company.
Top Communist Party politician Sergei Obukhov called the situation the beginning of an information campaign against the party.
Several other opposition figures have been barred from competing in the upcoming elections, most of them affiliated with the political network of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.
A court ruling earlier in July outlawed Navalny-linked groups by labeling them “extremist,” effectively banning those associated with him or his political movement from running for office.
With reporting by Reuters, Mediazona, and RFE/RL’s Russian Service