Former TV journalist Yekaterina Duntsova applied to run against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the country's March 2024 presidential election, the Associated Press reported Dec. 20.
Duntsova, 40, a local politician in Tver Oblast and mother of three, has publicly supported peace in Ukraine, though she refrains from using the term "war" in her remarks to journalists.
"Sooner or later every armed conflict ends, and I hope that it ends as soon as possible," Duntsova told Reuters in November.
Duntsova submitted documents at Russia's Central Electoral Commission to formally register her candidacy. In order to move forward as a candidate, she must next collect 300,000 signatures from across the country by Jan. 31.
“We’ve made this step, and I think it should inspire people who support us,” Duntsova told reporters on Dec. 20.
Putin was officially nominated as a presidential candidate in the March 15-17 race on Dec. 16. He has held power in Russia since 1999, and is running for his fifth term as president.
His only major opposition figure, activist Alexander Navalny, has been banned from participating in elections and imprisoned since 2021. Navalny's whereabouts are currently unknown.
Duntsova has said that her first act, if elected president, would be to free Rusisa's political prisoners. She has also specifically called for Navalny's release.
Some critics in Russia have accused Duntsova of cooperating with the Kremlin to lend Russia's heavily controlled elections a veneer of legitimacy. Duntsova has denied any such ties.
"Not the Kremlin, not the oligarchs and not big business — they do not support me," Duntsova told Reuters.