Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

No presidential candidate can beat Putin’s protege, Dmitry Medvedev

The complete list of candidacies running for the position of the Russian president will finally be exposed before the end of this month. Experts say that neither former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov nor the leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, Andrei Bogdanov, will pass the registration. According to experts’ estimates, candidacies of only three parliamentary parties will fight for votes in March of 2008.

Putin’s protege, Dmitry Medvedev, who has already earned the reputation of Russia’s next president, already started to perform some of his would-be functions. Following Putin’s example, Medvedev attended a church on Christmas night for a standing service on December 7.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a candidate from the Liberal and Democratic Party of Russia, has not been showing any activity lately. Gennady Zyuganov, the chairman of the Communist Party of Russia, currently watches ratings of mentioning in the media.

Candidates from three parliamentary parties were registered at the end of 2007. Two independent nominees, Mikhail Kasyanov and Andrei Bogdanov, launched their campaigns to collect two million signatures in their own support. The signatures will have to be submitted to the Central Election Commission not later than January 16, where they will be checked during the following ten days.

Andrei Bogdanov’s pre-election campaign experiences a shortage of funds. The law stipulates the maximum of 400 million rubles for election campaigns of presidential candidates. Bogdanov can boast of raising only ten percent of the required amount. A half of this money will be spent to collect signatures, which makes it obvious that Bogdanov will not be able to compete with other runners. “It is just honorable to be a presidential candidate in Russia. It is important to get registered so that our candidate would be mentioned in mass media as a serious politician,” an official spokesman for Andrei Bodganov’s election team said.

Mikhail Kasyanov’s followers say that they have already collected 1.7 million signatures. They say that the biggest problem which they had to face during their work was connected with Russian people’s indifference to the forthcoming voting, which is obviously not true to fact. The majority of Russians know that the election will take place on March 2, 2008.

Experts say that independent candidates – Kasyanov and Bogdanov – do not have many chances to become registered candidates. Expert Dmitry Oreshkin stated that the Kremlin administration would most likely remove them both from the race. “If they believe that the two candidates do not pose any threat but create the appearance of competition, they will most likely stay,” the expert said.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky apparently intends to move forward by attacking his rivals. For example, in December of 2007 Zhirinovsky harshly attacked communists: “Communists have been blackening and shaming our country for a hundred years,” he said.

AP photo

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov