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    WHAT THE RUSSIAN PAPERS SAY

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    March 5

    IZVESTIA

    There will be no problems with voter turnout at the presidential elections on March 14. Chairman of the Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov forecasts that about 70% of voters will come to the polling stations, Izvestia points out. Veshnyakov has denounced calls to boycott the elections and lamented the "strange things" that are happening with the campaign funds of some candidates, the newspaper goes on.

    Ivan Rybkin has the most mysterious financial flows. In recent days, the campaign fund of Rybkin, who returned to Moscow from London, has increased from 11 to 50 million roubles ($1 equals approximately 28.5 roubles). Irina Khakamada's campaign fund has similarly been mysteriously replenished. She has somehow managed to increase it from 25 to 54 million roubles in a few days. Sponsors of Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov have turned out to be more tight-fisted and his account has grown by a mere 10 million roubles, from 30 to 40 million.

    Veshnyakov did not comment on the reasons of the candidates' suddenly improved financial position, Izvestia points out. He just remarked with a cunning smile that he "understands perfectly that a candidate who wants to win the elections needs money".

    KOMMERSANT

    Today, Paris will host the third session of the Russo-French Security Council that will be attended by the two countries' foreign and defence ministers. It is more important than an ordinary diplomatic event, Kommersant points out. Moscow has embarked on a course to form "the nucleus of greater Europe", featuring key European countries. Strategic partnership with France is to become the backbone of this, the Russian authorities believe.

    The establishment of the Russo-French Security Council testifies to the special relations between the two countries, as Russia only has similar bodies of interaction with a few countries that it considers as its key partners in Europe. Today's Council session will confirm this, the newspaper believes.

    VREMYA NOVOSTEI

    Over the last two days, Russia has been experiencing real dйjа vu: as was the case almost 70 years ago the whole country has been closely following the rescue of polar explorers in distress. The ice floe under the drifting station Severny Polyus-32 recently suddenly cracked and disappeared into the water. The 12 expedition members are awaiting help on the remaining intact part, 700 km off Spitzbergen in two small buildings they have managed to save. State Duma deputy speaker from the United Russia faction Artur Chilingarov has ventured to come to their rescue and will head the rescue expedition. Former polar explorer, Chilingarov has already compared the current situation near the Pole with the Chelyuskin expedition rescue. "We have never had such a critical situation in the North Pole, except for the Chelyuskin incident," he said.

    NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA

    It seems that those who decided to shift from the US dollar to the euro have lost, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. In recent weeks, the exchange rate of the European currency has fallen. Correspondingly, the US currency in Russia has surged, on Wednesday exceeding 28.63 roubles per $1. Yesterday, the dollar continued its growth. Expert opinion about the current situation is not unanimous, though. Most of them are positive that strengthening of the US currency will not last long.

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