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26 Feb, 2008 04:14

Candidates push economic credentials

Days before Russia's presidential election, firebrand candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky has unveiled plans to ban the export of raw materials as well as build transport super-highways across the country. His rival Andrey Bogdanov has revealed he will hand ou

Presidential favourite Dmitry Medvedev has laid out plans to speed up private ownership of state assets, make the ruble the regional super currency and, contrary to world trends, replace VAT with a sales tax.

Now the other three candidates have upped their last-minute drive to woo voters ahead of Sunday's election. As well as promising EU membership within a decade, 38-year-old Andrey Bogdanov boasts he is Russia's youngest and only non-bureaucrat candidate.

He denied his party had received any funding from the Kremlin, quashing rumours they were state-sponsored to give a resemblance of free-market choice.

“We do not agree with what's happening in Russia, massive state interference in the economy rolling back the interests of small business. We will give the government's shares in Gazprom, UES and VTB to every citizen and make 40% of the population middle class within 4 years,” proposes Bogdanov.

The most controversial candidate revealed ambitions to make transport Russia's money-spinner, while banning export of raw materials.

“A monorail on stilts to cross Russia North to South at 350 kilometers an hour, a pneumatic tube from Vladivostok through Moscow to Hamburg at a speed of  5,000 kilometers an hour. Not one Russian log to go abroad, only furniture and building materials,” says candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The Communist Party is considered Medvedev's closest challenger. Its leader insisted the state isn't going anywhere near far enough to seize back key industries.

“Everyone must understand under its current policies Russia's doomed. I know what Henry Ford built, but I do not know a single factory built by Abramovich. We have stopped investing in strategic sectors, building machines, airplanes, and that is terrible,” grieves the leader of the Communist Party of Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov.