Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister, President of United Russia (ruling party), 59 y.o. He has already occupied President’s post twice (2000-2004, 2004-2008). Amongst Putin’s achievement experts name the reinforcement of centralized power after the “chaos” of Yeltsin’s years, general rise in welfare and level of life, relatively unscathed passing of crisis period, moving of Chechen conflict from phase of open warfare towards that of latent ethnic tension. His main failures are considered to be unability to break Russia’s dependence on oil and gas exports, limitation of certain democratic initiatives (scrapping of governors’ elections) or even openly authoritarian moves (LUKOIL and Khodorkovsky case), cold war rhetoric internationally, and cronyism (many important posts are occupied by his college mates, ex-KGB colleagues and generally friends from StPetersburg). His “switch” with incumbent President Medvedev, duiring whose tenure Putin moved to leading the government, is criticized as a legal ploy permitting him to circumvent Constitutional limit of two Presidential mandates in a row.
Vladimir Putin – www.putin2012.ru
Gennady Zyuganov,president of Central Committee of Communist Party of Russian Federation, leader of CPRF faction in Duma, 67 y.o. It’s fourth time that Zyuganov runs for Kremlin, in 1996 (after runoff), 2000 and 2008 he was always second, and is often dubbed “also ran”. Zyuganov proposes to create a Union state of Russia and Belarus and is generally prointegration on post-Soviet space. He advocates nationalisation of natural resources and strategic industries while keeping small and middle-sized businesses, and reinforcing social policies of the State.
Gennady Zyuganov – www.zyuganov.kprf.ru
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia and head of its faction in the Duma, 65 y.o. He a veteran of presidential polls in Russia, 2012 will be his fifth time, he constantly run since 1991, his best result – third place with 9,35% in 2008. He’s generally known to being outspoken and frank-speaking sometimes bordering on hysterical, and for his populist rhetoric (early in his career he made headlines saying Russian soldiers “will wash their boots in the Indian ocean”). Zhirinovsky was often accused of antisemitism and xenophobia (to what he replied Jews themselves are to blame for antisemitism). The ideology of LDPR, in spite of its name, is best described as nationalist-liberal, but, also paradoxically, with strong role of State.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky – zhirinovskiy2012.ru
Sergey Mironov, co-leader of Fair Russia party and head of its faction in the Duma, 59 y.o. has run for President in 2004 г.(6th place, 0,75 %). In 2001-2011 was speaker of the Senate (Federation Council, upper chamber of Russian parliament), where was sometimes accused of authoritarian ruling style and favouritism. Has generally left-leaning convictions, his party stands on social-democrate, modern Socialist positions. Initially Fair Russia cooperated with ruling United Russia and supported Putin-Medvedev line, but from 2011 positioned itself as openly oppositional to the current power.
Sergey Mironov – mironov.ru
Mikhail Prokhorov, businessman, billionaire oligarch and owner of the American basketball team, the New Jersey Nets. The only independent (not party-affiliated) candidate in this election -even if the media sometimes accuse him of being a “Putin project” designed to split the opposition and draw some part of middle-class towards the support of current power – charges which he vehemently denies. In politics since 2011, from June to September lead the Right Cause party but was ousted due to internal conflict, or, as some say, for being too freethinking and not towing to Kremlin’s line. Advocates views openly opposite to those of Putin (i.e., limiting the number of Presidential mandates by two for life). Prones economic integration with Europe and allied ties with its states politically. Economically states his main goal as protection of private property (obvious reference to Yukos case), and cites private initiative as the main resource for country’s development.
Mikhail Prokhorov – mdp2012.ru