JANUARY 24 2008 13:14h
˝This is no reason not to register, and I expect on Saturday a decision for registration.˝
Asked about comments by the Commission's secretary that he did not have the required two million valid signatures because of alleged forgeries, Kasyanov told Reuters: "We insist this is simple propaganda that the signatures are not real."
The liberal Kremlin critic, in Brussels for a conference with liberal European Parliament members, said in an interview: "This is no reason not to register, and I expect on Saturday a decision for registration."
Kasyanov said questions remained over the validity of barely 200 signatures. Russian news agencies earlier cited Commission member Gennady Raikov as saying 13.38 percent of the votes supporting Kasyanov had been "concocted".
Kasyanov added that his team were discussing the matter with the Commission and he remained confident that the formal decision scheduled for Saturday would go in his favour.
However he acknowledged that authorities could still come up with a reason to bar him. "They have grounds to do whatever they want -- that is current Russia, unfortunately ... Everything could happen."
Earlier at the conference, Kasyanov was scathing about the rule of President Vladimir Putin, alleging that Russians' basic needs were not being met and that authorities had lost control over inflation, which he estimated stood at 30 percent -- three times as much as the official rate of around 12 percent.
"Crisis is inevitable -- it may be in two years, even earlier. The political situation in Russia is such that there is a growing understanding among people that it is impossible to live in such a situation," he said.
Opinion polls suggest Kasyanov has little public support, trailing far behind Kremlin frontrunner Dmitry Medvedev, as well as Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.