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Russian newspapers published articles, which are devoted to various aspects of the presidential election campaign. The presidential candidate number one, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is in the centre of attention.
On Tuesday presidential candidates Sergei Mironov and Mikhail Prokhorov refused to participate in the election debates with Vladimir Putin’s election agents, Kommersant writes. Under Article 52 of the law on presidential elections candidates can participate in the election debates “only personally”, and their election agents are not permitted to participate in canvassing events, the newspaper elaborated. The exception can be made only “due to special circumstances”: the disease or the fulfilment of official duties.
A presidential candidate from Just Russia Sergei Mironov stated that he “is not ready to debate with the election agents.” Meanwhile, he noted that he is prepared “to pose questions to Putin personally.” A self-nominee Mikhail Prokhorov made a similar statement. Press secretary of Prokhorov’s election headquarters Olga Stukalova noted that Prokhorov will participate in debates “only with the presidential candidates.”
According to the Levada Centre sociological survey, 56% of Russian respondents assessed Putin’s decision to refuse participation in the election debates negatively; 23% of pollsters called this decision correct. “People would like a candidate to personally prove his efficiency as a public politician,” Levada Centre deputy director Alexei Grazhdankin commented on the results of the public opinion poll to the newspaper.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reports the results of Putin’s meeting with his election agents. At a Tuesday meeting the prime minister pledged to cut a number of flashlights on the cars, introduce a luxury tax and criminal persecution for violators of the migration rules.
Meanwhile, the League of Voters discussed an option for observers to receive mandates from Putin and Yabloko. Meetings between the League of Voters and representatives of the Putin election headquarters and Yabloko were held on Tuesday as well. Putin’s election headquarters was seeking to agree with the League of Voters to build ‘a vertical’ of observers in the regions and offered to form their group before February 20. These observers will be able to monitor all 96,000 polling stations in the country and then offer them for approval to a presidential candidate. The League of Voters did not give a concrete answer to the initiative yet. Its representative Andrei Demin said he is ready to recruit volunteers, but not to coordinate their actions in all regions.
Yabloko believes that there are no guarantees that the observers appointed by the prime minister will be independent. “Therefore, we decided to dispatch observers from Yabloko party,” Vedomosti quoted Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin as saying.
Novaya Gazeta published an article about the rallies in support of Vladimir Putin. The newspaper noted that the strategy, which was developed in the headquarters of the deputy chief of the presidential staff Vyacheslav Volodin, began working. The procedure of official demonstrations in counterbalance to the opposition actions was first practiced in Yekaterinburg on January 28 and was used in Moscow on February 4, the newspaper stated. Representatives of enterprises and organizations attended the demonstration on Poklonnaya Gora, according to Volodin’s scenario.
According to the document available to the newspaper, further actions in support of Putin are already scheduled in Russian cities on February 11 and February 18. Putin will participate personally in the most massive rally of his presidential campaign on February 25. The delegations from the regions are expected to arrive for the rally, Novaya Gazeta reported. The rally organizers hope to gather from 70,000 to 100,000 people.
The main slogan of the protest actions is the same as that on the Poklonnaya Gora, “If Putin is not elected, we can lose the country.” The newspaper reported that organizational principles will not change as well: United Russia should not act as an organizer, the mobilization of the participants should be voluntary.