A Russian opposition politician, gearing up for an election, has criticised authorities after discovering two of his opponents have the same name as him and have changed their facial hair in an apparent attempt to confuse the electorate.
Boris Vishnevsky, who is hoping to renew his seat in the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly later this month, accused officials of fielding "spoiler candidates" to reduce his voter share.
He said the two other Boris Vishnevskys had changed their names and even altered their appearance in their election photograph to look like him.
"What kind of a person do you have to be to change your name, surname and also your appearance to please your political boss?" the original Mr Vishnevsky said.
An election handout shows three men, of a similar age, with identical names and facial hair.
Mr Vishnevsky, a member of the liberal opposition Yabloko party, said the move showed his opponents see him as a strong contender.
"At each election for many years now we say that these were the dirtiest and most dishonest elections ever, and then at the next ones we repeat the same phrase," he said.
"It turns out the previous ones were better and these were even worse."
Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova condemned the incident as an "embarrassment and an outrage" in comments to Russian radio.
She suggested the two candidates submit new photographs, but they remained unchanged in the local election commission's office as of Tuesday.
The commission rejected a complaint submitted by Mr Vishnevsky, which demanded rivals give their previous names on the ballot, on the basis they could be distinguished by their different middle names.
The two other candidates could not be reached for comment.
Russia is set to hold elections on 17-19 September, including a vote for the federal parliament that President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party is expected to win, despite a slump in its ratings.
Allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny whose network was banned as extremist this year have alleged a sweeping pre-election crackdown and been legally barred from taking part.
The Kremlin denies any targeted crackdown.