From Bloomberg via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who pledged to develop democracy, won't participate in Russia's presidential election debates on television and will send representatives instead.
Putin is seeking to extend his 12-year-rule in March 4 presidential elections amid protests in major Russian cities. Tens of thousands of people braved temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in Moscow two days ago in the third such demonstration since alleged fraud by the ruling party in December parliamentary polls. While Putin, 59, is forecast to win the presidency, his opponents have vowed to keep up their rallies to push for democratic elections....MORE