Vladimir Putin’s chosen successor, Dmitry Medvedev, looks all set to formally take command of Russia after March’s election. But, riding high in the opinion polls, he has refused to meet his rivals in live TV debates, prompting opposition anger. Expected to win by a landslide, Medvedev does not exactly need more television exposure, getting blanket-coverage on state-run media.
Speaking to the legal profession today, he flagged up his social credentials, saying ordinary Russians need help in recognizing their rights.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov has complained about what he sees as Medvedev’s excessive right to airtime, at the expense of other parties. But he has dismissed speculation that he will pull out of the ballot.
“We will have a chance to make it to the second round. We must offer an alternative to the people. The country and people are interested in this alternative,” Zyuganov said.
Also standing is firebrand nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky whose campaign pledges include defending Russia against external enemies.
And, with a former premier turned Putin critic barred from the poll, the only other candidate is little-known independent Andrei Bogdanov.
Many observers however believe Putin himself will ultimately retain power. He has made clear he intends to keep political influence by becoming prime minister after leaving the Kremlin.