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Russian chess legend Kasparov drops presidential bid
UPDATE12.12.07, 9:16 AM ET

MOSCOW (Thomson Financial) – Russian opposition leader and chess legend Garry Kasparov told journalists today he was abandoning his presidential election campaign.

‘My electoral campaign finishes tomorrow,’ Kasparov said, blaming problems organising an official meeting of supporters to put him forward as a candidate as required by Russian law.

‘In all Moscow we have not been able to find a hall where our supporters could meet,’ he said.

Kasparov, heads a loose-knit movement opposed to President Vladimir Putin, The Other Russia.

The country holds a presidential election on March 2 after which Putin is to step down, with opposition forces seen as having virtually no chance of victory.

Kasparov has accused Putin of crushing democratic opposition through the Kremlin’s dominance of the media, election laws that sideline smaller parties and heavy-handed police tactics in dispersing demonstrations.

On Wednesday, he said his movement had encountered problems obtaining premises for a meeting officially required for his candidacy to be put forward in time for a Dec 18 deadline.

‘We pay and the people agree. There are no problems. And then they call us to say they are refusing, can’t give us the hall any more,’ Kasparov said on the sidelines of a gathering of Russian reformist parties and non-governmental organisations. ‘They refuse to give us the hall for technical reasons.’

Election law requires that a candidate who is not nominated by a political party with seats in parliament must get the support of an ‘initiative group’ meeting of at least 500 people.

The election commission must be informed five days in advance of the initiative group meeting, meaning the meeting cannot take place later than Dec 13.

Here is the full story.

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