Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks to the media outside the Central Election Commission in Moscow on December 25, 2017. (AFP Photo)
MOSCOW, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) on Monday denied opposition leader Alexei Navalny the right to participate in the 2018 presidential election due to his criminal conviction.
Under Russian legislation, if someone is found guilty of a crime, he or she will not be eligible to bid for the presidency, CEC head Ella Pamfilova said in a video of the commission's meeting published on Navalny's personal website.
Russian media reports confirmed the election ban on the 41-year-old lawyer, citing CEC member Boris Ebzeyev.
"We declare an electoral strike," Navalny said in a separate video on his website, calling his supporters throughout the country to persuade people to boycott the election and organize monitoring at the polling stations to prevent falsification.
In February, a Russian court found Navalny guilty of embezzlement at a timber company and gave him a five-year suspended sentence.
But he said he was innocent and the sentence was politically motivated and aimed at preventing him from continuing his political activities.
Navalny, the founder of an anti-corruption foundation, often publicly criticized the Kremlin and announced his intention late last year to run for the presidency in 2018.
Russia will hold its presidential election on March 18 next year. Several politicians, including President Vladimir Putin, said they will take part in the once-in-six-years race.