Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Alexei Navalny said Monday he would appeal the decision by the Russian Central Electoral Commission that has refused to register the activist as a presidential candidate because of a "grave" embezzlement conviction he said is politically motivated.
Navalny's petition was rejected by 12 CEC members one day after he submitted it, state-run RIA-Novosti reported. One member abstained, according to a BBC report.
"Firstly, a citizen who has been sentenced to imprisonment for committing a grave or especially grave crime and who has an outstanding conviction for the said crime, has no right to be elected president of the Russian federation," CEC member Boris Ebzeev said in a CNN report.
Russians are not allowed to run for 10 years after being convicted for a serious crime.
After being convicted in February for his role in embezzlement by a court in Kirov, Novalny said he planned to run and was eligible because only convicts are banned.
Navalny was handed a five-year suspended sentence with a probation period of 1 year and 5 months as part of the embezzlement case from Kirovles timber company in 2013. Navalny and his brother Oleg were also convicted for fraud and money laundering of the Yves Rocher Vostok company, a worldwide cosmetics and beauty brand, in 2014. Alexei Navalny received a suspended sentence of 3 years and 6 months in this case.
"The crime Navalny was charged with [embezzlement case] is referred to grave offenses, depriving an individual of the right to take part in the elections for 10 years from the date the conviction is removed or cancelled," Ebzeyev said. He added Navalny still had an unexpunged conviction.
On Sunday near Moscow, thousands rallied in support of Navalny. A total of 742 supporters raised small red voting cards inside a campaign tent to formally nominate Navalny for a presidential bid.
Navalny wants to run against President Vladimir Putin, who announced his intention to seek re-election -- his fourth presidential bid -- as an independent candidate at his annual press conference earlier this month.
When asked why Russia lacked effective opposition leaders, Putin said most of the current opposition figures were more focused on "making noise" instead of ways to benefit the country.
After the CEC's decision, Navalny called for a boycott of the March 2018 election.
"We are announcing a voters' strike," Navalny said. "The procedure in which we are invited to participate is not an election. It involves only Putin and those candidates whom he personally chose, who do not pose a slightest threat to him."