Five candidates may participate in presidential election: Putin

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Moscow, Sept 15 (UNI) Russian President Vladimir Putin has said five candidates may participate in the coming presidential elections scheduled for March 2.

''There are now at least five people who can run for President and can be elected. It is good that another person (Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov) has appeared, and that Russian citizens will have a choice of candidates,'' Mr Putin said yesterday at a meeting with the Valdai club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

He was speaking after signing a decree following the Russian State Duma, confirming his nominee Viktor Zubkov for Prime Minister, Russian TV stations reported.

Mr Zubkov had declared on Thursday that he might be a candidate for the presidential elections.

Commenting on Putin's remarks, some Russian political experts suggested that the list of likely candidates remained unchanged except for the addition of Zubkov.

''It is unlikely that former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will abandon the presidential race,'' the head of the Mercator think-tank Dmitry Oreshkin said, adding ''Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov will also continue to pursue his presidential ambitions.'' The head of the Kremlin-connected think-tank, the Institute of Political Research Sergei Markov said First Deputy Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin remained solid candidates for President.

UNI

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