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Russia’s electoral system ready for 2018 polls, Central Election Commission chief assures

December 15, 2017, 15:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

During the election, Russians will be able to cast their votes at any ballot station, no matter of their permanent residence, if they fill in an application form in advance

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© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. Russia’s electoral system is fully ready for the March 18, 2018 presidential election, head of the Russian Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova said on Friday.

"Russia’s electoral system, which involves 780,000 citizens, is fully prepared [to hold the election]. We are training to carry out the campaign so that none of us would be ashamed and we would be proud of this campaign," Pamfilova said.

During the election, Russians will be able to cast their votes at any ballot station, no matter of their permanent residence, if they fill in an application form in advance.

Russia’s polling stations will be equipped with a unique surveillance system, which is unparalleled in the world, Pamfilova said. "We have created unprecedented conditions for holding an absolutely transparent election and for the first time video surveillance has been introduced at territorial election commissions," she stressed.

The number of optical scan voting systems has grown from 5,700 to 13,000. "They will be set up at the polling stations where about one third of all voters will cast their votes."

Over the past six years since the previous presidential election, Russia has liberalized its election legislation and created conditions for competition. "If candidates don’t have certain types of conviction, if they don’t have citizenship of another country, are at least 35 years of age, then every citizen have the right to be nominated," she said.

The Central Election Commission will thoroughly check the documents of presidential candidates and everyone will enjoy equal rights, Pamfilova pledged. A total of 23 people have already announced their wish to run for president.

Some Russian politicians announced their plans to take part in the polls in advance. Back in 2016, the Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko announced plans to nominate for presidency one of its founders Grigory Yavlinsky.

Firebrand politician and leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky declared plans to take part in the election during a party session a year ago, and the party’s leadership confirmed the decision in the run-up to the official start of the campaign.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had kept silence about his plans for long and announced that he would run for the new term on December 6. During his annual news conference on Thursday, Putin said he would be an independent candidate. The United Russia party vowed to provide full support to him.

Leader of Russia’s Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov earlier said he should be always ready to take part in the polls, but the decision will be made at the party session.

Other presidential candidates, who have also announced their presidential ambitions, are TV host Ksenia Sobchak, business ombudsman Boris Titov, businessman Sergey Polonsky, singer and human rights activist Yekaterina Gordon and head of the Women’s Dialogue party Elena Semerikova.

Earlier on Friday, Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) unanimously approved the chamber’s resolution setting the presidential election for March 18, 2018. The resolution will be published within five days. The publication will mark the official start of the election campaign in Russia.

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