Media onslaught begins for Russian poll
Billboards and posters have sprung up across Russia as the official media campaign begins for the March presidential poll. From Monday, candidates will take their battle to TV and radio.
The country prepares for its most important choice. Billboards and posters have sprung up across the country encouraging people to vote.
Half of the allocated airtime was originally set for live debates. However, the much anticipated duels may be short of one important player. The presidential front-runner, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, has already turned down the opportunity.
So far pollsters predict a 70 per cent turnout.
They also say the Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, and the Liberal Democratic party leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, will each get around ten per cent of the vote.
And Andrey Bogdanov, the Democratic party of Russia leader, will scrape just one per cent of the vote.
And Dmitry Medvedevshould get the rest. That means something between 70 to 80 percent of the vote, so campaigning is unlikely to change the outcome.
Nonetheless many remain undecided and are eagerly waiting for the ads and debates.
The campaigning will go on for a month and will end on midnight March 1, leaving one day for reflection before Russians go to the polls.
Moscow has invited 350 international observers, including 70 from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to oversee the election.
But OSCE is not satisfied with its role, as it wants to monitor the campaign and the vote, and have warned that if that isn't possible they may boycott the election all together.
OSCE representatives are due to meet Russia's Central Election Commission on Monday to discuss the situation.