Presidential campaign starts today in Russia

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Moscow, Feb 2 (UNI) Campaigning for the presidential election begins today in Russia which will continue for about four weeks in the run up to the polling on March 2.

Each of the four registered presidential candidates will have free air time on the national TV channels and radio stations.

Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) has already officially registered Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and independent candidate Andrei Bogdanov.

Under the rules, half of the free air time has been allocated for debates.

Russian state TV Channel One, Rossia TV, TV Centre, and Mayak radio, Radio Russia and Voice of Russia will grant seven free hours for advertising clips and TV debates to each of the four candidates.

Front-runner Mr Medvedev, backed by President Vladimir Putin, has already refused to take part in TV debates, saying he will continue his daily job.

First Deputy Chief of the Communist Party's Central Committee Ivan Melnikov told reporters that Mr Zyuganov will take part in televised debates within the framework of the presidential election campaign. Mr Melnikov also heads Mr Zyuganov's election team.

Mr Zyuganov said the current situation in the country must be seriously discussed on national television and he would insist on televised debates between the candidates even if Mr Medvedev refuses to participate in them.

UNI XC PD AS1727

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