A one-month-long media campaign officially began Saturday ahead
of Russia's March 2 presidential elections.
Russia's First Channel, the Russia TV Company and the TV Center
as well as Mayak, Radio Russia and Voice of Russia will grant free
air time to advertising spots and TV debates.
The ruling United Russia party, which has nominated First Deputy
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as its candidate, published its
election program – "Putin's Plan, the Great Country's Worthy
Future" – in the national Rossiiskaya Gazeta
The Plan to develop Russia as a unique civilization, boosting
its economy, improving people's lives through massive and extensive
national projects for social development, supporting civil society,
strengthening national sovereignty and defense capabilities as well
as ensuring Russia a proper role in the multi-polar world
In the plan, the party vowed to build Russia as a great power
"on the basis of historic traditions and the distinctive cultural
values of its peoples and the best world civilization
"The Russia we choose is a strong democratic and
socially-oriented state. It is a free, just and spiritually united
society," according to the plan. "It is an innovative economy able
to compete. It is a high quality of life for its citizens."
Medvedev, who has been publicly endorsed as his handpicked
successor by the popular incumbent President Vladimir Putin, enjoys
high popularity across the country and is the clear front-runner in
the election campaign.
The other three candidates are Communist Party leader Gennady
Zyuganov, head of the Russian Liberal-Democratic Party Vladimir
Zhirinovsky and Chairman of the Russian Democratic Party Andrei
The state-run VTsIOM opinion center forecast on January 31 that
Medvedev, who has been working along with Putin since the early
1990s, would receive 74.8 percent of the votes, Zyuganov would
obtain 12.8 percent, Zhirinovsky 11.5 percent and Bogdanov a mere
Medvedev's campaign team, headed by Kremlin chief of staff
Sergei Sobyanin, is planning an "ascetic" campaign, the Moscow
Times newspaper quoted a United Russia official as saying, who
declined to give his name.
Medvedev has refused to take part in TV debates, saying he will
continue his daily job.
"This is not only because the other candidates are not serious
competitors. It was the wish of Medvedev himself," the official
Analysts, however, said Medvedev's relatively quiet campaign is
to avoid overtaking the popularity of his boss and close ally
Putin, who wants to remain his influence after stepping down in
In fact, Medvedev has been dominating television news
broadcasts, mostly alongside Putin, ever since the president
publicly gave him the nod as his preferred successor last
Zyuganov's team threatened to quit the campaign after Medvedev
rejected the TV debates but later pledged not to withdraw from the
presidential race, despite media restrictions and an alleged
Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky launched their campaigns by publishing
open letters and campaign outlines in national newspapers such as
the Komsomol Pravda on Saturday. Officials for
Zhirinovsky's campaign said 60 different television advertisements
will be broadcast in support of him.
(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)