– Ksenia Sobchak: reality TV star –
Ksenia Sobchak surprised Russians in October by declaring herself a candidate in the vote with the slogans “against them all”, and “none of the above”.
A former reality TV star, Sobchak took part in Russia’s 2012 anti-Putin protests before becoming a presenter on the independent TV Dozhd channel.
The 36-year-old has made no secret of her close ties to Putin, who worked with her father Anatoly Sobchak when he was mayor of Saint Petersburg in the 1990s.
This has led many to suggest her campaign is a bid to give the polls a veneer of competition and split the opposition vote. Sobchak insists her bid is genuine.
– Vladimir Zhirinovsky: populist troublemaker –
Vladimir Zhirinovsky is a Russian presidential election regular. The March vote will be the 71 year-old’s sixth presidential race.
The leader of the ultra-conservative LDPR party is known for his fiery anti-American, anti-liberal and anti-communist speeches.
He is considered by many observers to be the Kremlin’s token opponent and is often described as a clown in Russian political circles.
Though marginalised in recent years, Zhirinovsky continues to deliver nationalistic rants in the Duma and regularly appears on Russian television talk shows.
Around five percent of Russians are forecast to vote for him next month.
– Grigory Yavlinsky: veteran liberal –
Veteran liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky is running for the Russian presidency for the third time.
Yavlinsky gained less than 10 percent of the vote in the 1996 and 2000 elections.
He refused to run in the 2004 election, accusing Putin of rigging the vote. He was ejected from the 2012 presidential race at the last minute — a move he said was politically motivated after he came out in support of anti-Putin protestors.
The 66-year-old, who founded his Yabloko party in 1993, opposed the annexation of Crimea and has been critical of Moscow’s role in Syria.
He remains a prominent critic of Putin and Russia’s ruling United Russia party but is tolerated by the Kremlin. Parts of the divided Russian liberal opposition view him with scepticism.