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President Vladimir Putin will run in next March
The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, will run in next March's presidential election, which the Russian leader is widely expected to win, Moscow Echo radio station reported. Sergei Mironov was endorsed Sunday by the small Russian Party of Life to run in the poll, Moscow Echo said. "I am grateful that the Russian Party of Life made that decision, and we shall now take part in the campaign for the Russian presidential election," Mironov told the radio after his endorsement, adding that he still had to officially register with the central elections commission. The March 14 vote is almost guaranteed to see Putin -- boasting 80 percent ratings less than three months ahead of the vote -- grab a second term. Several veterans of previous Russian presidential elections, among them some of the nation's most recognized politicians, have decided not to take part in the poll. Stars of post-Soviet politics and several times presidential candidates like Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, ultra-nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky and pro-reform opposition politician Grigory Yavlinsky will not run this year. This has reportedly sparked concern in the Kremlin since a lack of alternatives to Putin may lead to a low voter turnout and presidential elections need 50 percent participation for them to be declared valid. Parties supporting Putin won a sweeping majority in last month's parliamentary election. However, the West -- in the form of the US administration and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- for the first time officially condemned how a Russian election was run after the December parliamentary poll.
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