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Putin Urges Russians to Vote Sunday - 2004-03-11


Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged Russians to go out and vote in Sunday's presidential election, which he is expected to win by a large margin. The president's appeal Thursday reflects concern that not enough voters will turn out to make the ballot valid.

President Putin says voting offers Russians a unique chance to influence events in their country and he urged them not to be complacent about participating in this Sunday's presidential election.

President Putin says only with the support of the people can a president outline the course of the country's future economic development and work to improve living standards for the population.

He said direct elections are one of the main achievements of democracy and should not be taken lightly.

President Putin is the overwhelming favorite, running against five other candidates who have mustered only single-digit support among Russia's voters.

The only suspense is whether 50 percent of Russia's eligible voters will turn up to vote on Sunday in order to make the ballot constitutionally valid.

Russian election officials have been working vigorously to generate public interest in the elections, placing massive billboards and video screens around the Russian capital.

Aside from electing a president, voters in ten regions across Russia will also be choosing local leaders. The majority of the regions are expected to see little change in leadership, which is mostly loyal to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

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