| MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - Chairman of the Russian
Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov told reporters yesterday
that on Thursday, after Rossiiskaya Gazeta officially publishes the Federation
Council's decision to hold the presidential elections on March 14, 2004,
the Central Election Commission will approve a calendar of the main events
of the forthcoming election race.
Potential presidential candidates can start the nomination procedure
today. Parties must nominate a candidate at their congresses no later
than 25 days after the beginning of the election campaign. Russian citizens
can nominate candidates themselves by forming initiative support groups.
Under the law in force, the nomination of the parties' candidates will
end on January 6, 2004.
The law relieves the parties, which have cleared the 5% hurdle at the
parliamentary elections, of collecting the 2 million signatures necessary
to register a candidate. Thus, United Russia, KPRF, LDPR and the Homeland
bloc will not have to undergo this labour-intensive procedure if they
decide to nominate a candidate.
The Chairman of the Central Election Commission believes that no more
than five candidates will be nominated.
Under the law, the elections will be considered valid if more than 50%
of registered constituents take part in them. To win the elections in
the first round a candidate will have to receive 50% plus one vote.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the LPDR leader who has taken part in every presidential
election since the Soviet times, has already stated his intention to run
The incumbent, President Vladimir Putin, has not made an official statement
about his intention to run for the second term. However, Boris Gryzlov,
the United Russia leader, said in November that the party was ready to
nominate Mr. Putin. It will become clear in the next few weeks whether
Mr. Putin will accept this proposal or whether he prefers to distance
himself from all political parties.
Gennady Zyuganov spoke yesterday about the KPRF's readiness to nominate
its presidential candidate. The party will make this decision collectively,
he said. However, after unfavorable results in the State Duma elections,
it is not clear that the party's leader will be nominated.
The Union of Right Forces (SPS) and the Yabloko party will have to conduct
difficult negotiations about a possible single candidate from the right-wing
parties. Earlier, Grigory Yavlinsky,
the Yabloko leader, promised to consider SPS's proposal to nominate a
single candidate after the State Duma elections. However, these results
were disappointing for both parties. Both failed to clear the 5% hurdle.
The presidential election campaign will be rather short, and the names
of all the candidates will apparently be known in less than a month. As
to the results of the elections, polls forecast a victory for Mr. Putin.