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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 11:23 GMT
Vladimir Putin joins the race

Vladimir Putin with a duckling Vladimir Putin is already trying to impress voters


Russia's Central Election Commission has given the expected go-ahead to acting President Vladimir Putin to stand in the March 26 presidential election, in which he is widely considered a clear favourite.

The commission unanimously approved Mr Putin's application and said he had provided all the necessary documents, including half a million supporters' signatures and evidence of income and property.


Putin with a T-shirt After the phone-in at the "Komsomolskaya Pravda"
On Monday, Commission chairman Alexander Veshnyakov said an investigation had been launched into complaints that Vladimir Putin and his main rival, the Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov, had broken election rules through their media appearances.

"We are going to examine the complaints," Mr Veshnyakov said. But he added: "We have more claims against the media than against the candidates."



We have more claims against the media than against the candidates
Head of Central Election Commission
Mr Putin gave a television interview last week and answered questions on a "hotline" phone-in arranged by a Moscow daily "Komsomolskaya Pravda".

Mr Zyuganov announced his political programme at a news conference.

Campaigning is only allowed from February 23 in the print media and from March 6 in the broadcast media.

Mr Putin took over as head of state after Boris Yeltsin resigned on New Year's Eve. He has established a big lead over his rivals, based mainly on his uncompromising stand against Chechen separatists.


Vladimir Putin skiing Mr Putin took a short break before the election
A recent opinion poll gave him 48 percent, with Mr Zyuganov a distant second with 14 percent. A candidate needs over 50 percent of the votes to win outright in the first round.

There are 11 other candidates, but they have little chance of winning. Some politicians who might once have harboured presidential ambitions have pledged support to the acting president.

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See also:
14 Feb 00 |  Americas
Clinton: US can do business with Putin
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Putin's message to the world
11 Jan 00 |  Europe
Putin: Russia must be great again
12 Jan 00 |  Europe
Putin's presidential chances
06 Feb 00 |  Europe
Putin on target for presidency
10 Jan 00 |  Europe
Putin reshuffles government

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