Putin-backed Medvedev registered as presidential candidate

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Moscow, Jan 21 (UNI) Russia's Central Election Commission has officially registered Mr Dmitry Medvedev as a candidate for the presidential election to be held on March 2.

Mr Medvedev, currently First Deputy Prime Minister in-charge of key national projects, is backed by President Vladimir Putin and four political parties, including the United Russia party which gained absolute majority in the parliamentary elections in December.

He is one of the three party candidates who have now been approved as presidential candidates, while two independents are still waiting to get the Central Election Commission's nod.

Mr Medvedev is spared from collecting the two million signatures required for individuals who are not backed by a party in the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament.

Two other candidates who have already been given official approval to run are Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Two more hopefuls-- former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Russian Democratic Party candidate Andrei Bogdanov-- are waiting for the signatures they have collected to be verified by the Election Commission.

Polls show Mr Medvedev as a front-runner in the presidential race.

The Public Opinion Foundation said in a survey that 50 per cent of those polled at the end of last year were prepared to vote for him.

Russian Public Opinion Research Centre said 60 per cent of Russians would vote for Mr Medvedev and the Levada Centre found that 79 per cent of Russians who had firmly decided whom they would vote for had chosen him.

UNI XC SKB HT1940

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