Russian opposition alliance registers for election

Russia’s oppositional group, which includes former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, applied Monday to participate in the December parliamentary election but said it expected the Kremlin to keep it out of the vote.

Kasparov and supporters in Other Russia, a group that unites liberals, leftists and nationalists opposed to President Vladimir Putin's policies, marched to the Central Election Commission headquarters in central Moscow to submit registration papers for the Dec. 2 vote.

"Our chance for registration is less than zero," Kasparov told journalists, suggesting that a main aim of the application is to draw attention to what Putin's critics say is a severe lack of democracy in Russia. "Once again, we'll show that the government uses administrative and legal leverage to exclude dissidents from the election."

Only registered political parties can participate in the election to the State Duma, the lower parliament house, and none of the dozen or so political movements that comprise Other Russia qualifies.

Only a handful of parties are likely to win enough votes to gain parliament seats, with the main Kremlin-backed party, United Russia, expected to win far more than any other.

Kasparov is the driving force behind the coalition and it fielded him on Sunday as the candidate for the March presidential election. Even if his candidacy is registered, Kasparov is not expected to pose a major challenge to any candidate backed by Putin, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term but has indicated that he could seek to become prime minister.

Kasparov said that the coalition aimed to "create an alternative political field" in a country where politics is dominated by the Kremlin-approved political figures and parties.

"The application has been accepted, the answer is due tomorrow," said Gennady Raikov, an official with the Central Election Committee, after Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, leader of the banned National Bolshevik party, handed him the papers.

Other Russia has held a series of street protests in the past six months, and police have in several cases reacted by beating and detaining dozens of people, drawing Western criticism of Putin and his government.

Russia's embattled, divided liberal opposition failed to win parliament seats in the last elections in 2003.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova