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4 Feb, 2008 14:31

Front-runner ignores election campaign debates

The Russian presidential candidates have begun campaigning in earnest and have taken part in the first televised debate. However, Kremlin-backed candidate Dmitry Medvedev has refused to take part in any TV debates, saying he is too busy with his duties as

The perennial candidate, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov is fighting a third election.
He's up against Liberal Democrat leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, famous for his often over-the-top rhetoric and flamboyant behaviour.
The fourth candidate is a relative newcomer to the Russian political scene – Andrey Bogdanov. The topic for the debate, ‘Russia’s role in the world’, made fiercely pro-European Bogdanov demonstrate his vivid imagination.

“Russia is like a boxer, knocked down, in plaster and on crutches. We need to pick our ally and this ally should be the EU,” he said.
“We’re not on crutches, in plaster or knocked out. Neither the EU, nor NATO, nor the U.S., China or the Arab world can be our allies. Each of them only wants to weaken Russia,” leader of the Liberal Democrats Zhirinovsky said.
True to form, the Communist leader wished if not for the return of the Soviet Union, then at least a union with one of Russia’s post-Soviet neighbours.
“We are for closer ties with Belarus and Ukraine. We’ve prepared a plan of a step-by-step voluntary rebirth of the USSR!” Zyuganov said.
And with Medvedev miles ahead of his competitors in the polls, in this race getting second place looks more of a battle than winning the top prize.