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Russian opposition figurehead Navalny may challenge Putin for Kremlin

© RIA Novosti . Michail FomichevAlexey Navalny has been one of the leading figures in ongoing protests against alleged vote fraud in favor of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party at the December 4 parliamentary polls.
Alexey Navalny has been one of the leading figures in ongoing protests against alleged vote fraud in favor of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party at the December 4 parliamentary polls. - Sputnik International
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Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny said on Monday that he was ready to stand for president.

Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny said on Monday that he was ready to stand for president.

"I'm ready to fight for leadership positions, including the post of president," Navalny told the Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio station.

He also said he might take advantage of recent simplified party registration rules proposed by outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev to form his own party. Medvedev also proposed relaxing the rules for the registration of presidential candidates during his final state-of-the-nation address last week.

Putin is seeking a third stint in the Kremlin after being barred by the constitution in 2008 from serving more than two terms. United Russia nominated him as their candidate in late November.

Navalny was also the man who coined United Russia's unofficial, popular nickname "The Party of Swindlers and Thieves."

The 35-year-old lawyer was jailed for 15 days after a December 5 protest against the polls. He subsequently launched a stinging attack on Putin after his release from a Moscow police station, urging a crowd of supporters to "vote against him, struggle against him" at the March 2012 presidential elections.

"The party of swindlers and thieves is putting forward its chief swindler and its chief thief for the presidency," Navalny said upon his release. "Explain to the people that this man is a swindler and thief and can not be the president of our big and wonderful country."

Putin made veiled criticism of Navalny during his recent televised Q&A session with the nation.

"Do you want rulers who would shout at you, saying: "Come on, you cattle!" Putin said, apparently referring to a YouTube clip of Navalny swearing at protesters during Moscow's December 5 protest rally.

The liberal, opposition Yabloko party recently said it would not nominate Navalny for the polls over his "nationalist views." Navalny has been a regular on the annual, nationalist Russian March.

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