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Russia: Presidential Vote Set For Late March

Moscow, 5 January (RFE/RL) - Russia's acting president, Vladimir Putin, said today that a presidential election campaign will get underway after the country's Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) voted that the contest will be held on March 26. Putin remains a clear favorite to win, outdistancing in public opinion polls other potential candidates such as former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. All candidates must collect 500,000 signatures in order for the candidacies to be official. The deadline for signatures to be collected is February 13.

Meanwhile, former President Boris Yeltsin, who resigned on December 31, has indicated that he will remain active on the public scene. Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, said in a newspaper interview that her father planned to set up a foundation with a presidential library and archives.

Yeltsin leaves today for Israel and the Palestinian territories to celebrate Orthodox Christmas there. He is to be accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.