Russia’s election authorities on Wednesday officially registered populist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky and communist leader Gennady Zyuganov to run in the presidential election in March.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and moderate social democratic leader Sergei Mironov are also registered to take part in the presidential race.
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the non-parliamentary liberal Yabloko party, as well as five other candidates including billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov all need two million signatures to register.
Until recently, Putin looked all but certain to win the March vote but recent anti-government protests appear to have dampened his support.
According to the independent Levada Center, Putin's popularity rating is now at a record low of 27 percent.