In the coming days the verdict of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) will be announced: who of the candidates submitting voters’ signatures to the CEC will be registered as presidential candidate. The quality and authenticity of the signatures have nothing to do with this [check up by CEC] and registration. It will be Vladimir Putin who will make the decision on the issue.

My prediction is like this: [oligarch] Mikhail Prokhorov will be registered, and Grigory Yavlinsky not. Why?

We have learned from The New Times, that the evening on December 9, Vladimir Putin telephoned Mikhail Prokhorov and asked him to run for president.

The 9th of December was just the last day of filing the application for the registration. In the evening the CEC gave the names of all those who applied and were registered. Prokhorov was not among them.

Prokhorov announced his nomination on the 12th of December - a day after a [mass-scale] rally at the Bolotnaya square in Moscow. And immediately after this the CEC said that Prokhrov’s notification of his desire to run for the president was suddenly “found”.

And for those who even after this doubted that Prokhorov wsa Putin’s puppet, the candidate clarified yesterday that he was "ready to join the winner’s team" (!) Why did he say this only yesterday?

Yesterday half of the selected signatures were examined. This moment is of great psychological importance. Yesterday there was the first information leak from the CEC to the Kommersant newspaper hinting of possible failure of Grigory Yavlinsky. Therefore, it was important for the oligarch yesterday to remind Vladimir Putin of his utter devotion.

Certainly preparation for the removal of Grigory Yavlinsky from the campaign had began much earlier. It was surprising even to the members of the CEC that members of Moscow local and territorial electoral commissions – those who had to confront YABLOKO’s observers on the voting of December 4 – were appointed to examine signatures in favour of Yavlinsky. Our observers were irreconcilable to the fraud, in contrast to most of the observers from other parties who agreed to send people from local and district authorities to local electoral commissions.

The persons examining signatures in favour of Yavlinsky are all either present of future figures from the “Churov List” [compiled by YABLOKO from people engaged in election fraud]. It is clear that their hatred towards YABLOKO’s observers will be turned into a fierce ruthlessness towards signatures in favour of Yavlinsky.

Why Putin wants to withdraw Yavlinsky from the presidential elections? There may be three answers:

1. Independent Grigory Yavlinsky would take votes from well-controlled Mikhail Prokhorov whom Putin appointed to serve as a candidate for liberals and democrats.

2. Observers from YABLOKOe will only strengthen the scandal in connection with fraud at the presidential elections, and Prokhorov will get deaf-and-blind observers who will try to reduce the scandal.

3. It is a punishment for YABLOKO which has been harshly criticizing Vladimir Putin, put real observers at the elections and did not recognize the results of the parliamentary elections.

This week we will get the answer to the question whether the coming presidential elections will be fair. Withdrawal of Grigory Yavlinsky from elections will launch and become a prologue to the outrages lawlessness on [the voting day of] March 4.