Kasparov Joins Russian Presidential Race

Democracy advocate and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov is running for President of Russia, the Associated Press reports from Moscow:

The former world chess champion Garry Kasparov entered Russia’s presidential race on Sunday, elected overwhelmingly as the candidate for the country’s beleagured opposition coalition.

Kasparov has been a driving force behind the coalition, which has united liberals, leftists and nationalists in opposition to President Vladimir Putin. He received 379 of 498 votes at a national congress held in Moscow by the Other Russia coalition, coalition spokeswoman Lyudmila Mamina told The Associated Press.

Kasparov’s place on the ballot was not assured. His candidacy still needs to be registered and could be blocked.

Read the rest at the link above. Kasparov was already very active in Russian post-Soviet politics before he lost his title and subsequently, being unable to achieve a rematch, retired from active competition. His reputation as one of the great chess champions of all time made him a popular icon in Russia, perhaps its most recognizable celebrity. Kasparov opposed Putin from the beginning, and has several times found himself delayed or detained by authorities to keep him from political events. At one pro-democracy demonstration, he was arrested to remove him from the scene and quickly released.

Putin’s tight grip on the media and security forces make any challenge an extreme long shot. Kasparov represents the best chance of opposition success, though. He has wide name recognition, and his battles for democracy are well known. His popularity makes it more difficult to simply imprison or assassinate him. Of course, even if he won more votes, getting an honest count from the Putin regime would be problematic.

Good luck, Gazza!

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