Moscow, February 26: Russia has started a three-week pre-election debate that will be kicked off on Monday, in which Russian presidential candidates would present their election programmes on radio stations and TV channels to attract their voters. Also Read - World's First Covid-19 Vaccine? A Ray of Hope as Russia’s Sechenov University Successfully Completes Human Trials

According to local reports, five federal TV channels and three radio stations will allocate free airtime for the campaign. Seven candidates were expected to join the first TV debate on the Public Television of Russia broadcaster on Tuesday. Also Read - 'Victim of Russia Hoax': Trump Commutes Prison Term of 'Longtime Friend' Robert Stone

Incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who is in his third term and running for another presidential tenure, refused to take part in the debate, Efe news reported. Also Read - Homophobia: Russian Politician Alerts President Putin Against Rainbow Ice Cream Allegedly Promoting Homosexuality, Matter to be Investigated

Putin is widely expected to have a landslide victory as he is reported to enjoy a much higher approval rating than his rivals in total.

Russia’s Central Election Commission said earlier that Putin will order representatives to present his election programmes in regional media.

A total of eight people, including Pavel Grudinin from the Russian Communist Party and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, have been officially confirmed to run for the country’s presidential election on March 18.

(With input from agencies)