Small pro-Putin party won’t contest president vote

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Fair Russia, a small political party backing President Vladimir Putin, will not nominate its own candidate for a presidential election in March, the party’s leader said on Friday.

Russians vote in a presidential election next March. Putin is barred by the constitution from standing for a third consecutive term, but says he wants to retain influence after the vote, prompting months of speculation over who will become president.

Analysts had said that a Fair Russia presidential nomination could win the backing of Putin.

“Our party, with 99.9 percent probability, will not put forward its own candidate in the presidential election and we are determined to support another candidate who is running in the election,” Sergei Mironov told a news conference.

Fair Russia, which has never criticized Putin, was founded last year. It came fourth in last week’s parliamentary election with 7.8 percent of vote. Putin’s United Russia party took first place with more than 64 percent of the vote.

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