Russia’s ruling United Russia party says it is ready to work with Yabloko party election observers during the March 4 presidential elections, the party’s senior representative Sergei Zheleznyak said.
Russia’s Central Election Commission on Wednesday refused to register Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky for the presidential race because, the Commission said, over 25 percent of signatures in his support were invalid. The law caps the amount of invalid signatures at five percent.
The move was immediately criticized by the opposition as an attempt by the Kremlin to stop Yabloko’s numerous observers from monitoring the elections and to make way for the main contender, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
However, a United Russia official said that “if some Yabloko party observers would like to monitor the elections” the ruling party would work with them.
According to electoral law, each election participant can employ observers to work at polling stations during the day of the elections.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who was registered as a presidential candidate on Wednesday, also said that he was ready to cooperate with Yabloko observers.
“I am ready to give him [Yavlinsky] an opportunity to participate in the elections through my team of observers, since the main goal of the upcoming elections is legitimacy,” Prokhorov said.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Wednesday that the Central Election Commission's refusal to register Yabloko party founder Grigory Yavlinsky as a presidential candidate does not give cause to question the legitimacy of the elections.
The commission also refused the application of an alleged Kremlin ally, Irkutsk Governor Dmitry Mezentsev, over invalid signatures.