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Opposition Candidates Won't 'Go Negative' on Putin - media

Three of Russia`s opposition presidential candidates...

Three of Russia`s opposition presidential candidates said that they would not run negative campaigns against the frontrunner in the race, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the business daily Vedomosti reported on Wednesday, according to RIA Novosti.

The candidates will begin running campaign advertizing on February 4, one month before the presidential vote.

The vows for a positive campaign follow pronouncements from Kremlin strategists that the ruling United Russia party suffered in December`s parliamentary elections because opposition parties assailed it as "The Party of Swindlers and Thieves," a label the party has struggled to shake off.

One of the opposition candidates, Sergei Mironov, the leader of the A Just Russia party, will appear in several promotional videos to attract voters, A Just Russia senior member Ruslan Tatarinov told Vedomosti.

The campaign of the Communist party’s head, Gennady Zyuganov will address "the rational, emotional and visual perceptions" of voters, the daily quoted Communist strategist Dmitry Novikov as saying.

Zyuganov’s main slogans are “Power and property to the people!” and “There is always a choice,” Novikov said.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the charismatic leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), will also refrain from opposing Putin, campaign team member Alexei Ostrovsky told the paper, adding that Zhirinovsky will star in 20 short films showing various aspects of his life.

“Zhirinovsky or it will get worse!” and “Zhirinovsky and it will get better!” are his slogans.

The fifth candidate, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who is running as an independent, will run ads attacking Putin in a "second wave" of the campaign, Prokhorov spokeswoman Yuliana Slashcheva told Vedomosti without providing details. Prokhorov said yesterday he would avoid attacking Putin unless the two men ended up facing off in a second-round runoff.

A survey held by the Levada Center, an independent Russian pollster, in January showed that 37 percent of Russians expect mass violations during the upcoming presidential vote on March 4.

Putin, who served two terms as president between 2000 and 2008, is widely expected to win the election, but recent polls suggest rising discontent could force him into a second-round runoff.

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