The media's role in Russia's elections: What you need to know

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Russians will go to the polls on 4 March to elect a president to replace Dmitry Medvedev, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin widely predicted to win the race.

He can rely on the support of much of the key mainstream media such as the three big TV channels and several top newspapers.

But following protests across the country over last December's disputed parliamentary elections, some say that Mr Putin underestimated the influence that independent newspapers, TV and radio stations hold over the Russian people.

Opposition activists are already harnessing the reach of the internet and social media sites to organise anti-Putin protests and call for fair elections.

BBC Monitoring's Stephen Ennis explains how traditional and new forms of media are likely to affect the outcome of the upcoming elections.

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