Russian authorities have rescheduled the country's next presidential election to March 2, 2008 - a week earlier than previously announced.
Earlier this week, the head of Russia's Central Electoral Commission Alexander Veshnyakov announced March 9, 2008, as the date of the vote. But Friday, Electoral Commission officials noted that the announced date follows International Women's Day, a major state holiday. For that reason, the commission decided to schedule the balloting a week earlier.
Russia's constitution bars President Vladimir Putin from running for a third consecutive term, and the Russian leader has repeatedly said he has no intention of remaining in office. But in a televised question-and-answer session in October, the Russian leader said he expects to play a role in setting government policy after leaving office and thus help guarantee the country's development.
In his original announcement, the Electoral Commission chief said the pre-election campaign will begin in early December of next year.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.