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Putin Drops Election Chief in Surprise Nomination List

FILe - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting of the Russian Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

Six months before the parliamentary election Russian President Vladimir Putin has dropped the key official responsible for holding elections from the list of nominees for the job.

The Kremlin on Thursday released the names of five nominees to the Central Election Commission, one of whom will be elected chairman. Vladimir Churov, the current chief who became notorious for refusing to investigate electoral fraud, is not on the list.

Churov was nicknamed The Wizard by the Russian opposition in 2011 when hundreds of election monitors documented widespread fraud at the parliamentary vote, which spilled into massive anti-government protests.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not comment on why Churov, who has served as chairman since 2007, was not nominated.

One of the nominees is presidential human rights ombudsman Yelena Pamfilova.