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The upper house of Russia's parliament on Friday formally set March 4, 2012 as the date for the presidential election, Russian news agencies reported.

The senate unanimously backed the date, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported. An official from the Central Electoral Commission had initially announced the March date in July, based on electoral rules.

Russian strongman and current prime minister Vladimir Putin is expected to reclaim the presidency in the poll after his protege President Dmitry Medvedev stood aside to allow him to announce his candidacy.

The vote will follow parliamentary polls on December 4, which Putin's ruling United Russia party is expected to win.

The date for the presidential poll is expected to be published in a state newspaper on Saturday, officially launching the campaign, ITAR-TASS reported.