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Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met his high-level campaign workers in support of his candidacy in the forthcoming presidential election on March 26

February 28, 2000, Conference Hall Of The Itar-Tass News Agency, Moscow

Mr Putin emphasised the important role of high-level campaign workers in ensuring that people received feedback from a presidential candidate. ”People are not passive in domestic and foreign politics; they are very active politically, they want changes, and I can well understand these expectations,“ he said.

He urged his high-level campaign workers to work actively and not to think that victory in the forthcoming election was already certain. He noted that some of his rivals had been on the political stage for more than ten years.

The acting president said that priority in his election programme was given to guaranteeing property rights, improving the country's legal framework, increasing the efficiency of the bureaucratic machine, waging a tough and uncompromising war against corruption, improving conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses, resolving the Chechen problem and stabilising the situation in the North Caucasus.

In response to journalists' questions after the meeting, Mr Putin commented on a proposal to extend the president's term in office from four to seven years. ”Overall, I support the idea, but I do not think that it would be proper to announce an automatic term extension after the 2000 election, even by holding a referendum. Later, the country's citizens could be asked the question, but the decision should be applied only to the person who will be elected president in 2004,“ he said.

The meeting was attended by 506 of Mr Putin’s 535 high-level campaign workers registered by the Central Election Commission, including heads of state-owned companies, university rectors and representatives of local governments.

The law allows a presidential candidate to have up to 600 high-level campaign workers.

February 28, 2000, Conference Hall Of The Itar-Tass News Agency, Moscow