Medvedev officially joins presidential race

Russia's Central Election Commission has officially registered Dmitry Medvedev, the First Deputy Prime Minister, to run for the top job. He's one of three party candidates who've now been approved, while two independents are still waiting to get the nod.

Medvedev is backed by the party in power, United Russia. That means he is spared from collecting two million signatures required for individuals who are not backed by any party in the Duma.

He has also been endorsed by Vladimir Putin as his preferred successor.

And experts believe if Medvedev wins the race, the country won't experience any dramatic changes.

“Medvedev is not only Putin's follower – he in a way is Putin’s student. And Putin himself isn't leaving anywhere. So it's absolutely clear there will be neither a drastic change, nor a new course for the country,” said Vitaly Ivanov from the Centre for Current Politics in Russia.

Two other candidates have already been given official approval to run. These are the leader of Communist party, Gennady Zyuganov, and the leader of Liberal Democrats, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Two more hopefuls – Mikhail Kasyanov and Andrey Bogdanov – are waiting for the signatures they've got to be verified for authenticity.

The Central Election Commission officials say the final list of candidates will be named on January 27.