Kasyanov Turns Over 2 Million Signatures

APKasyanov watching a supporter carry a box of voters' signatures to the Central Elections Commission on Wednesday.
Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov submitted to the Central Elections Commission on Wednesday the 2 million signatures required to run for president in the March election.

Speaking as the boxes of signatures were delivered to the commission's downtown headquarters, Kasyanov vowed to stay in the race at all costs. Earlier Wednesday, a campaign manager in the Marii-El republic was detained on suspicion of faking signatures.

"Many contributed their signatures with the feeling that they were preparing for their last battle," Kasyanov said.

"People sharing this attitude are urging me to go to the end. This is a great responsibility, and I cannot drop my decision now. Therefore, I will not quit," he said, Interfax reported.

He said he had doubts over whether he would be registered as a candidate, but did not say why, Interfax said.

Collecting 2 million signatures is a daunting -- but not impossible -- task, experts said. Complicating matters, no more than 50,000 signatures can come from any one of the country's 85 regions, and candidates have less than a month to collect them.

Kasyanov appeared to have lost at least 50,000 signatures Wednesday after Marii-El investigators said they had opened an investigation into whether Rustam Abdullin, head of Kasyanov's local campaign office, had faked signatures. Federal Security Service officers detained Abdullin earlier in the week and found in his bags 50,000 signatures, which they believe were falsified.