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Russia elections on December 7

Moscow, Sept. 2 (Reuters): Russian President Vladimir Putin today confirmed December 7 as the date for parliamentary elections that should provide a pointer to his grip on power as he prepares to make a bid for a second Kremlin term.

“Let’s get down to it,” Putin said in televised comments after announcing he had signed a decree fixing the date for elections to the State Duma (lower house).

Supporters of the 50-year-old Putin, who is genuinely popular for bringing stability to Russia after the zig-zags and political tension of the 1990s, dominate the 450-member Duma.

Most analysts say he will consolidate his hold in parliament — while publicly distancing himself from any one bloc — ensuring a smooth ride back into the Kremlin in March 2004.

The former KGB spy, in power since 2000, has set targets of doubling economic growth, ending mass poverty and imposing a Kremlin blueprint for peace on rebel Chechnya.

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