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Week ahead of RF presid election experts predict one round

February 26, 2012, 1:04 UTC+3

The campaign was started on November 26 with a formal publication of the decision of the Federation Council

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MOSCOW, February 26 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian presidential election campaign in Russia has entered the homestretch. The election will be held exactly in a week – on March 4. Three months of the election marathon, which took place in a tough competition, against the backdrop of the started political system reform and numerous rallies, are left behind. The last week of the campaign is expected to be a time of the loudest statements, the most violent controversy, the sharpest TV debates. Traditionally, the candidates tend to use these days to the full.

The campaign was started on November 26 with a formal publication of the decision of the Federation Council. Already on January 25, the names of five registered candidates for the president of Russia became known - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, nominated by United Russia, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (KPRF) Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of A Just Russia Sergei Mironov. Among the nominees of the parliamentary parties is a new person in the presidential election - businessman Mikhail Prokhorov - the only self-nominee, who managed to collect in support of his registration two million authentic and valid signatures. On January 31, the Central Election Commission (CEC) approved the text of the ballot paper for the presidential election, which in the alphabetical lists the five names from Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Vladimir Putin.

According to the latest data given by the leading opinion survey services, the main intrigue of the current election has been dispelled. All of them have predicted that the election will have only one round. Nevertheless, the current election of the head of state, which will be the sixth in Russia’s modern history, have already been called unprecedented by political analysts.

On the one hand, “all the familiar persons” are running: a number of the presidential race participants can rightfully claim the unofficial status of “permanent candidates.” Zhirinovsky, for instance, have run in the presidential race five times, Zyuganov - four. On the other, the campaign takes place in a very tough situation, against a background of widespread protests following the December State Duma elections, the opposition rallies, allegations of fraud, demands of resignation of CEC head Vladimir Churov. The denial of registration to one of the founders of the Yabloko party Grigory Yavlinsky has evoked many negative emotions and sharp statements. It is no secret that the election campaign’s toughness is due to the fact that the president elected for a six-year term for the first time. And, according to political scientists, the change of political elites will inevitably happen during this period.

This affected the election campaign of the candidates, most of whom conduct it in a new way, giving up slogans and commercials of the past Duma elections and actively mastering the Internet. For the first time the opposition presidential candidates made a demarche, refusing to debate with Vladimir Putin’s election agents, though, as it is known, the country’s first persons have traditionally not participated in this kind of canvassing. The opposition candidates also made a demarche responding to the proposal to sign a social contract on fair elections.

At the same time the struggle for fair elections has become almost the main slogan of the campaign. Unprecedented steps against falsifications have been taken on the initiative of the prime minister. For the first time in the shortest time period the country’s polling stations (more than 95 thousand) have been are equipped with Web cameras. Transparent ballot boxes have been urgently made. Almost all the election participants are willing to recruit election observers not only from among their supporters, but also to involve representatives of other parties or NGOs. The Russian CEC head even expressed concern that due to the presence of such a large number of observers at polling stations, there will be no place for the voters in these premise that are often quite small in size.

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