Kremlin critic and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov will not run in Russia's presidential election after authorities repeatedly blocked supporters' efforts to hold a nominating conference, his spokeswoman said Thursday.
Under election law, Thursday is the last day that potential candidates for the March 2 vote have to hold such conferences.
A spokeswoman for the broad-based opposition coalition that Kasparov heads told The Associated Press that organizers have been unable to find an auditorium or hall in Moscow where activists could gather and vote to put forth Kasparov as a candidate.
Spokeswoman Marina Litvinovich accused the government of pressuring landlords to not rent to the coalition, Other Russia.
"Authorities put up as many obstacles as possible to stop us. That's it," she said.
Since leaving chess, Kasparov has become a vociferous critic of President Vladimir Putin's government, cobbling together a disparate coalition of nationalists, left-wing activists and liberals to try to generate broad opposition.
Kasparov would have had little chance of winning the election, which almost certainly will be won by Dmitry Medvedev, the first deputy prime minister who got Putin's powerful endorsement.
Many obstacles facing opposition groups
But the difficulty of obtaining a hall for a nominating meeting highlighted the array of impediments faced by opposition groups in Russia.
Opposition forces frequently complain that they are denied venues for their meeting. Requests for permission to hold opposition marches are generally rejected or the marches rerouted to areas where they will attract little attention.
Police violently dispersed a number of opposition rallies organized by Kasparov's group this year, and Kasparov was jailed for five days after a rally in Moscow last month.
Also Thursday, riot police stopped two buses carrying dozens of Other Russia supporters who were traveling out of Moscow for the funeral of 22-year-old activist who died earlier month allegedly after being beaten by police during a protest, Litvinovich said.
Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, leader of the radical National Bolshevik Party, had planned to attend the funeral.
Putin said Monday that he supported Medvedev, a longtime protege, to become Russia's next president _ an endorsement almost certain to clinch an election victory for Medvedev in the March 2 vote. On Tuesday, Medvedev returned the favor, asking that Putin be his prime minister.
Becoming prime minister would allow Putin to retain a strong measure of power without violating or changing the constitution, which prohibits presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms.