An activist based in St. Petersburg has sounded the alarm on a local university that is reportedly forcing students to collect signatures for President Vladimir Putin’s 2018 re-election bid.

Independent candidates, which Putin is running as in this campaign, are required to collect at least 300,000 signatures to get on the ballot. The presidential campaign spokesman announced on Friday that 408,000 signatures have been gathered so far, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

First-year students at the St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University were reportedly ordered to collect at least 14 signatures for Putin’s nomination, local activist Oksana Borisova wrote on the Russian Vkontakte social network earlier in the day.

The students were informed their efforts would “ostensibly play an important role in end-of-the-year exams," she added.

The university provost denied the accuracy of Borisova’s allegations in an interview with the Rosbalt news agency.

Dmitry Kuznetsov, the provost, did confirm Borisova’s claim that the rector is a member of the ruling United Russia party.

“But our head of research, Vitaly Vasiliyev, for example, always votes for the Communists,” he said.
Students Reportedly Forced To Collect Signatures for Putin

Doesn't surprise me at all lol A member of the university administration voting for the Commies means nothing, since the Communist Party is simply another part of same system, along with Putin's United Russia, to which the CPRF is second in their support base and Duma seats; and a couple other parties, like Zhirinovsky's LDPR, and Mironov's Just Russia. They are all committed to Putin and his reign. The party differences are in name only

Also:

Russian president Vladimir Putin will spend the maximum allowed on his presidential campaign bid of 400 million rubles ($7 million).

Russia's Central Election Commission revealed the amount for funds available to registered candidates, with incumbent Putin far ahead of his competitors.

As of Jan. 5, Putin had 400 million rubles in his election fund and has already spent 13.4 million on print materials.

Four hundred million rubles is the maximum amount permitted by law, and it is bigger than the combined election funds of all of Putin's competitors put together.

Putin's fund is made up of contributions from the largest political party, United Russia, which provided 28 million rubles, again, the maximum allowed contribution by a party.

Also, one private individual contributed over 20,000 rubles, but neither the election commission nor Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed the name of the contributor.

LDPR head Vladimir Zhirinovsky has the second largest campaign fund of just over 200 million rubles. Business ombudsman Boris Titov was able to secure 20.7 million. TV host Ksenia Sobchak has 19.4 million and Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky 15 million.

The smallest amount, 1,066 rubles, is in the fund of the Communist candidate, multimillionaire businessman Pavel Grudinin.

The formal amounts in the various politicians’ funds do not reflect their ability to campaign. Most of the state-supported candidates have access to state media with the state-owned television remaining the main source of information for most of the population.
Putin to Spend the $7M Maximum Allowed on his Presidential Election Campaign

Putin is said to be one of the richest people on Earth. I doubt he would have any problems throwing a few million bucks into this little show/"campaign". It's probably pocket change to him...