Alexei Navalny gains backing across Russia for presidential bid

Despite broad support for Navalny's presidential bid it is widely expected that officials will keep him off the ballot. Should Putin win a new six-year term he would become Russia's longest serving leader since Stalin.
Hundreds of supporters of Alexei Navalny vote to support his bid to become president of Russia.
Thousands of supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny turned out across the country on Sunday to endorse his bid to become Russia's next president.
Some 800 supporters gathered for the formal endorsement meeting along the snow-covered embankment of the Moscow River. His endorsement was observed by two officials from the election commission.
Navalny represents President Vladimir Putin's most formidable opponent during Putin's 18 years in power. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, Navalny is banned from running because of a criminal conviction that is widely viewed as political retribution.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announces his plans to runs for president of Russia.
Navalny announces plans to runs for president of Russia
One caveat is that Navalny could run if he gets a special dispensation or if the conviction is canceled.
His representative is expected to file the papers with the Election Commission later on Sunday — the same procedure that Putin, who is also running as an independent, should follow.
Aspiring presidential candidates are only required to submit an endorsement from 500 people before seeking 1 million signatures to secure a place on the ballot, but Navalny used a show of public force to illustrate his support. Hundreds or thousands gathered in 19 cities from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok to show their support for Putin's chief critic.
Watch video00:35

Russian opposition leader barred from 2018 election

Despite a litany of problems such as corruption, poor healthcare and increasing poverty Putin is widely expected to be re-elected. He essentially controls the TV news and so enjoys 80 percent support among voters.
A grass-roots campaign
Still, Navalny has managed to galvanize support from some of Russia's sleepiest regions with a year-long grass-rootscampaign.
"We have seen for ourselves this year that overwhelming support for authorities simply isn't there," Navalny told Sunday's gathering in Moscow, flanked by his wife and children, in a US-style election campaign speech.
Election officials are expected to accept Navalny's filing on Sunday but it seems highly unlikely that they will place his name on the ballot.
Watch video00:46

Navalny and hundreds of protesters detained in Russia

Navalny said Sunday that he's confident he will win if he runs, and called on his supporters to boycott the election if the authorities refuse to register him.
"We are not going to recognize this election but we're not going to step aside either, "he said. "There will be an all-Russian strike of voters."
"Navalny is the only real opposition candidate," said Sergei Dmitriyev, 60, in Saint Petersburg where more than a thousand supporters gathered to support Navalny's bid.
"We need a new president," added Alexander Semyonov, 18.
Asked why Navalny had been barred from running, Putin — who has refused to mention him by name in public — said the opposition was hoping for a "coup" but would not succeed.