Putin’s campaign presents scores of boxes filled with petitions backing his run in March election

MOSCOW, Jan 22: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s campaign staff on Monday presented scores of boxes filled with signed petitions supporting his run in the March presidential election, a vote in which he’s almost certain to win another term in office.
Putin, although closely tied to the dominant United Russia party, is running as an independent, a path that would prolong his grip on Russia for at least another six years. The 71-year-old leader has twice used his leverage in the past to amend the constitution so he could theoretically stay in power until he’s in his mid-80s. He is already the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who died in 1953.
Russian election law requires independent candidates to present at least 300,000 signatures gathered from 40 regions of the country to get on the ballot.
Russian news reports said Putin’s campaign staff brought in 95 cardboard boxes, filled with signed petitions, to the Central Elections Commission. Previous reports said the campaign had collected more than 2 million signatures.
The commission is to finalise the list of candidates by Feb 10; the elections will be held on March 17.
So far, three candidates have been approved for the ballot, none of whom have a serious chance against Putin. They are Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, Leonid Slutsky of the Liberal Democrats and Vladislav Davankov of the New People party.
All three parties have seats in the parliament where United Russia has an overwhelming majority. (AP)