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Russian Opposition Party Challenges Putin's Parliamentary Candidacy

A Russian opposition political party says it has asked the country's Supreme Court to disqualify Russian President Vladimir Putin as a candidate in next month's parliamentary elections.

A spokesman for the Union of Right Forces, Nikita Belykh, told reporters in Moscow the president's position as head of state gives his United Russia Party an unfair advantage in the December 2 vote. United Russia has put Mr. Putin at the top of its list of candidates in the parliamentary election.

Belykh said the president's candidacy for parliament, while he maintains control of all of the organs of power in the country, violates Russian election law.

Tuesday, Mr. Putin said a victory for his United Russia Party in the elections would give him a "moral" right to retain influence after he steps down from the presidency next year.

Russia's constitution bars him from seeking a third consecutive term.

Opinion polls suggest that the United Russia Party will win a majority of seats in the State Duma.

The Union of Right Forces is one of a number of political parties that have lost parliamentary seats and political influence since Mr. Putin assumed office in 2000 and later changed procedures for parliamentary elections.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.