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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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The race to topple Vladimir Putin begins in Russia

Presidential campaign.

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MOSCOW, Russia - After the Federation Council or the upper house of the Russian parliament approved March 18 as t he date for the 2018 presidential campaign.

On Monday, as preparations for the election began, all potential participants and their supporters spring into action.

After March 18, the anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia was approved, the decree came into force and it was published in the Monday edition of the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. 

In Spring of 2017, the changes in election terms were made, not to let the polls clash with the “long weekend” resulting from March 8 – International Women’s Day – falling on a Thursday.

The law now gives those who seek to become independent candidates 20 days to hold a convention of their supporters and then take the minutes of the event to the Central Elections Commission, along with other papers necessary for opening the registration process. 

Reports noted that as per the rules, political parties that do not hold any parliamentary seats have 25 days to hold their election conventions and come up with the names of candidates. 

Further, an independent candidate would need to collect 300,000 signatures of supporters whereas a candidate from a non-parliamentary has to present 100,000. 

Political parties that hold seats in the federal parliament can propose candidates without presenting supporters’ signatures.

A report in Tass news agency said that the deadline for submitting the package of documents required for registration of a candidate, including the supporters’ signatures, and had been set for January 31, 2018 at 18-00 Moscow time.

Meanwhile, the report also pointed out that the Russian government has allocated almost 15 billion rubles (over $252 million) for the campaign. 

This week, the Central Elections Commission is expected to approve the detailed budget and plan of election events.

Last week, the head of the commission said that the country’s election system was completely ready for the polls, adding that the authorities have created “unprecedented conditions for absolutely transparent and open elections” and that the system of video monitoring that will be used is the best in the world.

Further, Presidential candidate Ella Pamfilova also said that she personally hoped that the 2018 campaign would bring “positive surprises” while being competitive and interesting.

Addressing reporters on Monday, Nikolai Bulayev, Deputy chairman of the commission said that the automated ballot-processing complexes that will be used in 2018 were not connected to any outside data networks and therefore cannot be hacked. 

The official noted, “If you take an ax or a hammer you can break the box and throw some ballots in… but as far as hacking is concerned, in our opinion it is impossible.”

In the March presidential election, President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win a fourth term that would keep him in power until 2024.

Putin, who was first elected president in 2000, is widely expected to cement his status as Russia's longest-serving ruler since dictator Joseph Stalin.

However, fears are high that turnout could be low.

According to a study by the independent Levada pollster released last week, 58 percent of Russians said they would vote in March, down from 75 percent in December 2007.

Meanwhile, Putin's top critic Alexi Navalny has been barred from putting his name on the ballot paper because of a criminal conviction, which he says is politically motivated.

 

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