Senators fix date for presidential election

Next year's presidential election will be held on March 2. The date was announced following a special session of Russia's Federation Council in Moscow. The full list of candidates should be known by the start of next year.

The speaker of the Upper House of Parliament, Sergey Mironov, says the decision on the date will be ratified “on November 28” when it will be published in “two state-run newspapers.” “This will be the official start of the election campaign for Russia’s Presidency,” he said.

Before the New Year the list of the candidates will be rounded off. Currently media is circulating up to six viable possibilities, all of them – active players in Russian politics.

The Russian constitution bars the sitting president Vladimir Putin from running for a third term. So all eyes are on who'll have Putin's support in the election.

Putin’s future role also remains in question. He's announced he will not abandon politics when he steps down next year.

Viktor Linnik, the Editor-in-Chief of the Slovo newspaper said that “Putin will certainly stay as a political force to be reckoned with in the future even if he is not a president after March 2, 2008. He will obviously emerge as a party leader of the majority party. For all political forces he will be someone to consider seriously.”

RT political commentator Peter Lavelle estimates that about seven candiates will contest the election.

“Within the political elite we can probably get up to three, and four from different forms of opposition,” Lavelle said.

Meanwhile, there's just a week to go before Russian voters elect a new parliament. The ballot will take place on Sunday.