Russia’s Central Election Commission made the announcement in a statement published on Friday, saying that Navalny was not eligible to stand for office because of currently serving a five-year suspended sentence for embezzlement.
“According to available information, on February 8, 2017, Navalny A. was sentenced under… the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to five years of imprisonment with a fine of 500,000 rubles [$8,400], the sentence was suspended with a probation period of 1 year 5 months. Thus, at the moment A. Navalny does not have the right to be elected,” the statement said.
The electoral body said that embezzlement charges fell into the category of a serious crime and individuals convicted of such crimes could not stand for public office until 10 years after their sentence ended.
Rejecting the ruling, Nikolai Lyaskin, Navalny’s campaign manager, claimed, “According to the constitution, any citizen who is not in prison is eligible to stand for public office.”
The 40-year-old Navalny, a lawyer by profession, first raised his profile by speaking at mass protests against President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin in 2012.
Navalny is already opening campaign offices across Russia and needs to gather 300,000 signatures to register as a candidate. The Kremlin critic, who has announced his intention to run for president in the elections the next year, has been rallying supporters in major Russian cities in recent weeks.
Navalny is currently regarded as the most prominent opposition figure in Russia and was briefly arrested along with some 1,000 people after protests in late March, which came following his allegations about corruption in the government.
He again made the headlines in April when an attacker allegedly doused his face with a green antiseptic liquid.
He has faced a number of legal challenges that he describes as “politically motivated.