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Putin Will Not Participate in Election TV Debates - Spokesman

File Photo of Russian Television Studio
file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 12 (Interfax) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will not take part in televised debates among presidential candidates, but could authorize his representatives to do this for him, Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

"Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin's participation in televised electoral debates would require that he take a leave, according to the law, which would undoubtedly prevent him from properly performing his prime ministerial duties," Peskov told Interfax on Thursday when asked whether Putin could speak in TV debates. However, "the airtime allotted to presidential candidate Putin in line with the law will be used to inform the voters about his election program," Peskov said.

"In addition, the possibility of Putin's representatives participating in the debates is under consideration now, but a final decision on the matter rests with him," Peskov said.

Speaking with journalists later on Thursday, the press secretary said he had been surprised by the public response to Putin's decision not to participate in the TV debates and pointed out that the premier had said himself that he might not participate.

A leave would hinder Putin's prime ministerial work, which is quite demanding, Peskov said.

"This working program without electoral events dominating it will be the core of Putin's policy within the next weeks," he said.

Presidential elections are scheduled in Russia for March 4.

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