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Russian ex-PM nominated presidential candidate
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10:08, December 08, 2007

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The People's Democratic Union nominated ex-premier Mikhail Kasyanov as a candidate for next year's Russian presidential elections at its congress on Friday, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The presidential race formally kicked off in Russia on Nov. 28, when the date for elections to choose a successor to President Vladimir Putin was set for March 2. Under the constitution, the current president is forbidden from seeking a third term.

Kasyanov, as a liberal independent candidate, will have to collect at least 2 million signatures from supporters, which will then need to be registered with the Election Commission before Dec.18.

Candidates put forward by those parties which overcame the 7 percent election threshold at Sunday's elections will be spared the necessity of collecting signatures.

As the People's Democratic Union is not a registered political party, Kasyanov's nomination will have to be formally approved by an action group on Saturday.

Speaking at the congress, which gathered 109 delegates from the union's 61 regional branches, Kasyanov criticized recent parliamentary elections in which the pro-Kremlin United Russia party won about 64 percent of the vote. President Putin headed the party's candidate list.

Kasyanov, who was Russian prime minister from May 2000 through February 2004, said that during the election campaign the parties were not on a "level playing field" and did not have equal access to media. Therefore, he said, he had not voted in the polls for the first time in his life. He also urged for political reforms in Russia.

A number of politicians have already announced their intention to run in the 2008 presidential elections. These include the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party leaders -- Gennady Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, respectively.

Other figures who have spoken of plans to run in the elections include liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, ex-deputy premier Boris Nemtsov, Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, recently jailed for five days following an opposition march.

Source: Xinhua



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