Russian presidential candidates to be registered by Jan. 27
( RIA Novosti ) - All candidates for next year's presidential election in Russia must be registered with the Central Election Commission by January 27, a member of the commission said on Thursday.
The presidential election is set for March 2, 2008. Under the Constitution, incumbent President Vladimir Putin is forbidden from seeking a third term.
"January 27, 2008 will be the final date for the Central Election Commission to register all candidates," Maya Grishina said, adding that political parties must obtain permission to nominate their candidates by December 23. Independent candidates must submit their documents to the commission before December 18.
The pre-election campaign and TV debates will start on February 2, after the registration process is concluded. However, unlike during parliamentary elections, if a candidate refuses to hold TV debates, he will not be given compensatory air time, Grishina said.
The pro-presidential United Russia party, which won 64% of votes with Putin heading its candidate list at the December 2 polls, used its air time for party political broadcasts rather than for debates with opponents.
There has been broad speculation about Putin's successor, with First Deputy Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev seen as the possible candidates, along with Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. The United Russia party has promised to announce its candidate for the presidential race in mid-December.
Russia said last Thursday it would invite the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to observe the polls. The organization, the main election monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, boycotted Russia's parliamentary polls over what it called "unprecedented restrictions," and subsequently declared the election "not fair."