The upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, set March 4 as the date of the 2012 presidential elections on Friday.
The ruling will come into force later on the same day after being published in the evening edition of the official Parlamentskaya Gazeta daily newspaper, formally starting the presidential campaign.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to triumph in the polls, is to be officially nominated as presidential candidate at the United Russia party congress this Sunday. The event will take place in the Luzhniki sports arena and is expected to attract some 11,000 participants.
Putin said in mid-October that he and President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to switch jobs four years ago.
In line with the law on presidential elections, the vote should take place on the second Sunday of the month of the previous presidential polls. But in 2012, the second Sunday of March will be a working day in Russia, so the vote will take place on the first Sunday, which is March 4.
Three of the four parties in parliament have already announced their presidential candidates.
Putin’s election rivals will be Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the right-wing LDPR party who will be officially announced as presidential candidate on December 13, and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, whose official nomination will take place four days later.
History of presidential elections in Russia
The A Just Russia party will decide on its participation in presidential polls at a party congress on December 10.
Non-parliamentary parties, such as the Right Cause and Yabloko, are also undecided on whether or not they will take part in the presidential race.