Communist candidate approved for Russian presidential election

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The Russian Communist Party is running a nominee in the upcoming March presidential elections.

Russia’s electoral commission approved Tuesday the candidacy of Nikolai Kharitonov, a long-time leader in the Communist Party and member of the State Duma — the country’s lower legislative house.

Kharitonov enters the race against three other candidates, including the nearly certain victor, incumbent President Vladimir Putin.

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Nikolai Kharitonov

Nikolai Kharitonov, a lawmaker of the Russian Communist Party, the second largest party in the lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, submits his documents as a presidential candidate for the upcoming presidential election at the Russia’s Central Election Committee in Moscow, Russia.  ((AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File))

Kharitonov previously ran as the nominee of the Communist Party against Putin in 2004. He finished in second place with just under 14% of the vote.

The Communist Party is the second-largest political group in Russian politics behind the dominant All-Russian Political Party, also known as United Russia.

Officially, Putin is not a member of any political party and will run as an independent. However, United Russia continues to back the vast majority of the dictator’s policies and supports his leadership.

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Putin sitting in front of Russian flag

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Presidential Council for Science and Education via a video link at the Kremlin in Moscow. (MIKHAIL METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, the election commission registered two candidates to oppose Putin in the 2024 elections.

Liberal Democratic Party candidate Leonid Slutsky and New People Party candidate Vladislav Davankov were approved for the March election by officials this week. 

Danankov currently serves as the deputy speaker for the state Duma. Slutsky is the head of the state Duma’s foreign affairs committee.

Russian Communist Party candidate Nikolai Kharitonov

Russia’s national elections commission on Tuesday registered the Communist Party’s candidate to compete with President Vladimir Putin in the March election that Putin is all but certain to win.  (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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Putin has held continuous positions as president or prime minister since 1999. He has been president since 2012, with his previous stint as president running from 2000 to 2008. 

The Kremlin has been publicly dismissive of elections in recent months, seeming to acknowledge the nation’s questionable international credibility of its democratic institutions.

“Elections are what a democracy demands and Putin himself decided to hold them, but theoretically, they don’t even have to be held,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state media outlet RBK in August 2023. He added, “Because it’s clear that Putin will be elected. That’s completely my personal opinion.” 

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