Russian opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has abandoned his bid to run for president.
An aide to Kasparov said it is technically impossible for Kasparov to run because authorities prevented his supporters from getting his name on the ballot. The aide said Kasparov supporters were not able to find a venue where they could gather to nominate him as a candidate.
Meanwhile, the Central Elections Commission announced Thursday that President Vladimir Putin will not take a seat in the next Russian parliament, even though his name headed the list of the victorious United Russia in this month's elections.
Officials said Mr. Putin ceded his mandate to United Russia member Sergei Kapkov from the Magadan region.
Mr. Putin would have had to resign the presidency to take the seat.
In related news, the head of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, launched his candidacy today for the March 2 presidential election.
The party officially nominated Zhirinovsky as a candidate at a session in Moscow Thursday.
President Putin, who is barred from seeking a third consecutive term, Monday endorsed First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev to succeed him. Medvedev says Mr. Putin should become prime minister after the presidential election
In other news, Mr. Putin issued a decree today for the newly elected lower house of parliament to hold its first session December 24.
Also today, members of the banned National Bolshevik Party accused police of involvement in the deadly beating of a colleague last month. The funeral of Yuri Chervochkin was held today outside Moscow. Party activists say unidentified assailants beat him with baseball bats more than three weeks ago.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.