The Russian Central Elections Commission (CEC) has officially registered Grigory Yavlinsky of the liberal Yabloko party and Business Ombudsman Boris Titov of the pro-business Party of Growth as presidential candidates.
Both candidates are backed by political parties that hold no seats in the federal parliament, which means that to register they had to present signatures from at least 100,000 supporters, collected in various regions of the Russian Federation. This was completed in late January and, after checking the documents, the commission concluded that the proportion of invalid signatures in both batches had not exceeded the maximum allowed by law – 5 percent (Yavlinsky had 1.07 percent and Titov showed 4.35 percent).
The two men personally attended the CEC’s Wednesday session, at which their fate was decided. They collected their freshly-issued candidates’ certificates personally.
Yavlinsky is a founder of Yabloko. He was among the first Russian politicians to announce plans to participate in the 2018 presidential poll. In March 2017, Yavlinsky presented his election program, which is built around the promise to grant every Russian citizen a free one-acre parcel of land on which to build a home. At the same time, in press interviews Yavlinsky has emphasized that his major objective is not to win the elections, but to influence the current Russian authorities by showing them that the support for liberal ideas in the society can be substantial.
Titov is a successful entrepreneur, part-owner of the Russian sparkling wine brand Abrau-Durso, and the head of the Russian Winemakers’ Union. He has worked as ombudsman for business since the post was instituted in 2012. Titov also heads the Party of Growth – a liberal-conservative political group with a pro-business agenda. His presidential program is based on the plan to send groups of effective managers to target destinations who would gradually reform the economy. The first such group would be an ‘Administration of Growth’ set up to develop a detailed program for economic reforms and later oversee its implementation.
Other contenders already registered as candidates include incumbent President Vladimir Putin, founder and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky and farm magnate Vladimir Grudinin, who is backed by the Communist Party. Hopefuls that yet await registration are Sergey Baburin of the All-Russian People’s Union, TV host and magazine editor Ksenia Sobchak, backed by the Civil Initiative party, and Maksim Suraikin of the Communists of Russia. The latter is a minor party that presents itself as a radical alternative to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).
The vote is scheduled to take place on March 18.