Russian government summoned energy companies these days to give it a notice about developments that could influence public opinion in the period up to May next year, when President Vladimir Putin's term comes to an end. This was reported by Reuters.
The meeting suggests that Russia's government has enlisted firms to help plan its public relations strategy ahead of the presidential election, due to take place in March 2018 with a second round if needed the following month.
Most Kremlin-watchers expect Putin to seek another term, and polls suggest virtually no danger that he could lose: despite three years of difficult economic times, his approval rating hovers around 85 percent.
But as in past Russian elections where the overall outcome was in little doubt, the authorities are expected to carefully manage the campaign, seeking a strong mandate with high turnout. Putin's last presidential election in 2012 was accompanied by opposition protests, and turnout at parliamentary elections last year hit a record low of 48 percent.
The meeting on February 16 was attended by about a dozen companies, comprising all of the major firms in Russia's energy sector, including its two oil and gas giants, Rosneft and Gazprom.
One of the sources said company representatives were asked to reveal what projects they were preparing to bring on line that would bring positive coverage, including such things as new production capacity, buildings, or even nursery schools.
Earlier it was reported that Russia elections to State Duma have started. Holding elections is also planned in occupied Crimea. MPs are elected by a mixed system: 225 deputies - on lists of political parties, 225 - in single-member constituencies. Parties will have to collect more than five percent of the votes to enter the State Duma.