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Navalny Calls for Presidential Election Boycott After Being Barred as Candidate

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who submitted endorsement papers necessary for his registration as a presidential candidate, speaks at the Russia's Central Election commission in Moscow, Dec. 25, 2017.

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is calling for a boycott of the country's next presidential ballot after election officials barred him from running.

Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) voted Monday to bar Navalny from running in the March 2018 presidential election because of his conviction on criminal charges that the anti-corruption blogger and his followers say were politically motivated.

The commission's decision came a day after Navalny declared he had collected the required number of endorsements nationwide to become a presidential candidate.

Following Monday's CEC decision, Navalny released a video calling on his supporters to boycott the presidential vote.

"We understood that this [the CEC decision] was possible, and we have a clear and precise plan... We are declaring a 'voters' strike', in as much as the procedure in which we are being urged to participate is not an election," he said.

Navalny said his team would now campaign against participating in the presidential election, saying to cast a ballot would be "to vote for deception and corruption."

President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this month that he will run in the March 18 election, and it is widely assumed he will win a fourth term as Russian head of state