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 - Russian An-26 Plane With 6 People On Board Goes Missing From Radar In Khabarovsk Region

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 - Afghanistan Should Not Become Threat To Neighbouring Countries: PM Modi at 13th BRICS Summit

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 - Tiger 3 Shoot: Katrina Kaif Spends Day At Saint Petersburg In Stunning Chic Look, Salman Khan Spotted With Nephew Nirvaan

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)