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A total of 25 independent candidates have to date submitted applications
A total of 25 independent candidates have to date submitted applications for the Russian presidential polls due on March 2, 2008, a Central Election Commission spokesperson said on Thursday.

In order to be officially nominated as a candidate, an individual without the backing of a parliamentary party must form an action group consisting of no less than 500 supporters. The would-be president then has to submit the necessary documents, including proof of income and property, to the Central Election Commission before December 18.

"Action groups should have already held six meetings, but already at least two meetings have not taken place," Maya Grishina said.

Unlike independent candidates, presidential nominees from political parties should submit the necessary documents by December 23, Grishina said.

If approved by the commission, an independent presidential contender is also required to produce at least 2 million signatures in support of his application to run in next year's polls.

Grishina said the number of independent presidential candidates are expected to include Andrei Bogdanov, leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, former premier Mikhail Kasyanov, Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, as well as former parliamentarians Vladimir Ryzhkov and Nikolai Kuryanovich.

The official said the number of contenders could fall as there were doubts they would all be able to hold the required meetings.

Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, recently jailed for five days following an opposition march, was one of the first to announce plans to pull out of the presidential race after failing to find a venue for his action group meeting.


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