Blocked Russian presidential hopeful put on 'foreign agent' register

(Reuters) - A anti-war former television journalist barred from challenging incumbent Vladimir Putin in a Russian presidential election last March has been placed on a register of "foreign agents," the Justice Ministry said on Friday.

Yekaterina Dontsova, who had wanted to run against Putin on a platform of stopping the conflict in Ukraine, was put on the list, the Ministry said, for spreading "false information intended to form a negative image of Russia".

It said she had "spoken out against the special military operation," the name coined by the Kremlin to describe the 27-month-old conflict, and had "worked together with public movements whose activity is recognised as undesirable on the territory of Russia".

Russia's Central Election Commission had disallowed her candidature last December on grounds of "numerous violations" in the papers she submitted in support of her bid. That ruling was upheld by Russia's Supreme Court.

Dontsova, 41, told Reuters last year that she wanted the release of all political prisoners and said Russians were "very tired" of the conflict in Ukraine.

The designation of "foreign agent", which recalls restrictions of the Soviet era, obliges people to identify themselves as foreign agents on social media and in other publications. They must also submit to difficult financial reporting requirements.

Many public figures, including writers and cultural figures, have been placed on the register after speaking out against the Ukraine war.

Putin won re-election in March with about 88% of the vote. At least one other anti-war candidate, Boris Nadezhdin, was also kept off the ballot. Putin's best known political rival, activist Alexei Navalny, died in February in an Arctic penal colony.

Other additions to the foreign agent registry on Friday included human rights activist Marina Litvinovich and independent news site SOTA.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Alistair Bell)