The Moscow News
Evgeniya Chaykovskaya

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has refused to take part in debates with other presidential candidates, citing his busy schedule, but has created a list of 499 representatives and supporters who will campaign for him instead.

The prime minister is taking one day off in order to meet with these people on Tuesday. The list includes singers, actors, musicians, sportsmen and other famous people. Putin himself referred to people who will stand in for him at debates as his "little brothers."

The list of famous people drafted in to support the prime minister's presidential bid includes Comedy Club star Garik Kharlamov, Russian footballers Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Yury Zhirkov, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Andrei Arshavin.

The well-known personalities have recorded a series of videos endorsing Putin, where they ostensibly talk without a script. The videos were made by actors Yevgeny Mironov* and Alisa Freindlikh, head of Mariinsky Theater Valery Gergiyev, Olympic winning figure skater Yevgeny Plushchenko and Russian hockey stars Aleksandr Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Experts, however, are sceptical about the success of the project. "They will not attract Putin any votes, but it will ruin his karma," political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky told "Putin already has his electorate and a steady rating, and it will be very difficult for him to mobilise anyone else." ...

SITE NOTE. While he did record a campaign video, Yevgeny is not on the list of Putin's 499 representatives and supporters.