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A debonair businessman who boasts million-dollar earnings, Pavel Grudinin came as a surprise choice as Russia's Communist candidate for the presidency.In a predictable March 18 presidential election, Grudinin is likely to be runner-up to President Vladimir Putin, even though he lags far behind in state-run opinion polls at around 7 percent.However, Grudinin is not a member of the Communist Party and much of the businessman's wealth comes from renting and selling highly valuable land bordering the Moscow ring road to hypermarkets.Grudinin may be a "capitalist," but his treatment of workers and the local community play well with Communists too, said political analyst Konstantin Kalachev.According to state pollster VTsIOM, Grudinin's public support stood at 7.1 percent in early March, while Putin's was 69.7 percent.Rashkin suggested Grudinin could get 30 percent and force Putin into a second round.Like Navalny, Grudinin has wooed young people.The Kremlin is torn over Grudinin, Kalachev said.Grudinin is rumored to be aiming for the job of Moscow regional governor and needs to stay on the Kremlin's good side by gaining no more than 15 percent of the vote, Kalachev said.
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