Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Thousands rallied on Sunday in support of Russian politician Alexei Navalny, as he launched a bid to oppose President Vladimir Putin in next year's election.
Despite being declared ineligible to run for election due to a fraud conviction in 2014, 742 supporters raised small red voting cards inside campaign tent near Moscow to formally nominate Navalny for a presidential bid.
"Vladimir Putin, you should not be president anymore," Navalny said. "You are a bad president. You have no positive platform. We are sending you a message in these elections and are ready to win."
Others gathered at rallies in Moscow, St. Petersburg and 18 other Russian cities to show their support for the 41-year-old Navalny, who became known for exposing corruption in Russia's government and Putin's inner circle.
He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2013 and described the fraud conviction that has made him ineligible to run for office as politically motivated.
Navalny said while Russian electoral law bars anyone with a criminal conviction from seeking elected office, nothing in the country's constitution prevents his bid and he intends to submit papers to register his candidacy on Sunday.
"Just try to not let us run in the elections," Navalny told his supporters. "We will call a strike."