Putin Will Make Call to Vote

President Vladimir Putin will give a televised speech this week calling on citizens to vote in Sunday's presidential election, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

Putin will stay above politics and simply urge Russians to take part in the election process, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said by telephone.

"This is not campaigning for a specific candidate," Peskov said. "It is a call for people to vote."

Putin has previously indicated his support for First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally who is expected to trounce the other three candidates in Sunday's vote.

A spokeswoman for Medvedev's campaign declined to comment and referred all questions to the Kremlin.

Peskov declined to say when the speech would be broadcast, but a report Tuesday in Vedomosti said it would air Friday, citing unidentified sources in the Medvedev campaign and the presidential administration.

Friday is the last day candidates are allowed to campaign.

Peskov declined to give details about what Putin would discuss, but he said it was "traditional" for the president to urge citizens to vote. He compared the upcoming speech to similar addresses that Putin gave before the 2004 presidential election and before last December's State Duma vote.

In a five-minute speech broadcast Nov. 29, Putin called on people to turn out for the Duma election -- and to support the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Putin himself led the United Russia ticket in that election.

Opposition parties cried foul, saying the address amounted to free political advertising on all the nationwide television channels.

Both the Kremlin and the Central Elections Commission defended the speech, saying it did not contradict election laws.