Russia has accused European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton of interfering in the country's internal affairs.

Earlier Ashton had urged Russia to review its decision to bar liberal opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky from taking part in the coming presidential election. I call on the responsible authorities to review as a matter of urgency the decision not to register Grigory Yavlinsky, Ashton said during the European Parliament’s debates on Russia in Brussels.

Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko party and two-time presidential candidate, was disqualified last week after officials judged that 25.6 percent of the 2 million signatures submitted as part of his application were invalid or fake. Yavlinsky has denied the accusations of fake signatures, saying the ban was a purely political decision.

In my view, this is (Ashton's call) disrespectful to Russia. This is a pure interference into the country's domestic affairs and the actions of an independent body, Russia’s Central Electoral Committee, said Nikolay Konkin, CEC Secretary.

In the presidential election to be held in March this year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would seek a third, non-consecutive term.