Media campaigning by Russia's presidential candidates starts Saturday in anticipation of the March 2 election.

The Russian news agency says four candidates are allowed to campaign.  They will get free radio and television airtime for campaigning and debate beginning Monday. 

Western analysts say Dmitry Medvedev, hand-picked for the presidency by President Vladimir Putin, is virtually assured of winning the race.  Russia's constitution bars Mr. Putin from seeking a third consecutive term.

Medvedev will face off against Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, and Democratic Party leader Andrei Bogdanov.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.