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RIA Novosti, December 11, 2003

Today saw the launch of the presidential election campaign in Russia

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 for president.

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.


See also:

Presidential elections 2004

RIA Novosti, December 11, 2003

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