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Russia registers 8 to run in presidential election

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Feb. 6 (UPI) — Russia’s election commission on Tuesday formally registered eight candidates to run in next month’s presidential election, including President Vladimir Putin and the daughter of his political mentor, Ksenia Sobchak.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s state-run Tass news agency that Putin received his presidential candidate certificate, allowing him to seek his fourth term in office. He announced his intention to run for re-election in December.

Though Putin has support from multiple political parties, he registered as an independent candidate, meaning he had to secure at least 300,000 signatures from supporters in order to qualify.

The Russian Central Election Commission registered seven other candidates, including two who didn’t have to secure signatures because they’re backed by major political parties and hold parliamentary seats. Vladimir Zhirinovsky is running as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, which he founded, and Vladimir Grudinin is running as a member of the Communist Party.

The remaining five candidates had to secure signatures from at least 100,000 supporters. They included: Grigory Yavlinsky of the liberal Yabloko Party, Sergey Baburin of the All-Russian People’s Union, Boris Titov of the Party of Growth, Ksenia Sobchak of the Civil Initiative Party and Maksim Suraikin of the Communists of Russia Party.

Sobchak, a socialite and television personality, is the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak, the former mayor of St. Petersburg, who introduced Putin into a government career. She traveled to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, answering questions at the National Press Club and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

She said she hopes to improve the relationship between Russia and the United States, even if her chances of winning the presidency are low.

“Russia is a huge country with big economy, which you know has nuclear weapons and it’s not a good way of communication, like we do it now,” Sobchak said. “I want to be a first bridge between our countries and to show that even during my presidential campaign this issue is very important to me, and to find some solutions, some links with each other, to which we can little by little become, create a better situation for both of our countries.”

Russian voters head to the polls March 18 to select their new president for a six-year term. State-run pollster VTsIOM on Thursday said Putin held the lead among likely voters with 69.9 percent of support.