The Yabloko political party has refused to promote its candidate and participate in the presidential elections in March, said Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinksy after the conclusion of the party's congress on Sunday. 'Today the current political environment in Russia does not allow for free and equal elections. The judicial system is not independent and the media is dependent on Kremlin financing,' said Yavlinsky. He added that the recent parliamentary elections showed how immense government resources make competition between candidates unfair and unequal. Yavlinsky said that the situation was similar in 1990. However, in 1996 and 2000 it was possible to run an independent election campaign. '
He added that Yabloko will remain a political party and work for the creation of a large Russian democratic party by uniting all possible forces.' Yavlinsky said that the party must now decide whether to call for a boycott of the presidential elections or vote 'against all candidates.' Both Yabloko and its Right-wing rival Union of Right Forces failed to reach the necessary 5% barrier in the December 7 State Duma elections.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building