Russian journalist becomes second woman to enter 2018 presidential race

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - A journalist became the second woman to enter Russia's presidential race, saying on Monday (Oct 30) she wanted to use the election to campaign for the rights of single mothers and children.

The presidential election takes place in March next year. President Vladimir Putin is expected to stand and win, but has yet to confirm his plans.

Some opposition activists believe the Kremlin's aim is to crown the field with candidates designed to distract and entertain in order to boost turnout and divide the liberal opposition.

The Kremlin denies that, saying anyone who meets the legal criteria to run can take part.

On Monday, mother-of-two Ekaterina Gordon, 37, who has worked as a TV and radio talk show host, said she was putting herself forward as an independent presidential candidate.

She said she had never voted, but had become disillusioned by both the liberal opposition and pro-Kremlin politicians.

"I understood that everyone is fed from the same trough," Ms Gordon said in an online video.

"There are many populist themes... But there is one reality - we are a country of single mothers, and no one gives a damn about them."

She said she had not agreed her candidacy with the Kremlin and had experience of the kind of problems Russian woman faced due to her ownership of a law firm.

Another female candidate, Russian TV personality Ksenia Sobchak, said earlier this month she planned to run for president, offering liberal voters unhappy with Mr Putin's rule someone to back, though she, like Ms Gordon, has little prospect of winning.

Post-Soviet Russia has never had a female president.

Kremlin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny wants to run too, but Russia's central election commission has declared him ineligible due to a suspended prison sentence, which he says was politically-motivated.