>> It's a rare glimpse into the Russian government's political machine, ahead of elections next year that could keep President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. Russia's energy ministry met with representatives of the industry's top producers last week, asking them to provide advanced warning on any developments that could influence public opinion until May of next year, a month when Putin's term expires.
Reuters' Katya Golubkova broke the story.>> The meeting did not ended up in sending any special signals to the companies, at least, according to our sources. And it was rather the way to understand if there are any problems in the regions the companies are operating in many remote, with political situations, social situations, which should be addressed before it becomes something critical.
An invitation to the meeting seen by Reuters did not specifically mention the election. Putin's widely expected to seek another term, although he's made no official announcement. Sitting at a whopping 85% approval rating, there's little doubt he'd win. The government is still expected to carefully manage the run up as they have in the past.
High turn out among voters would give him a strong mandate. Putin's last presidential election in 2012 was marked by mass opposition protests with a record low of 48% of voters turned out for parliamentary elections last year.>> It's a sign that the preparation for the presidential election campaign is all ready on the way.
>> Developments to be reported to the Kremlin could include anything from new schools opening, to financial issues. And they're expected to check in monthly. Oil producer Rosneft declined to speak with Reuters about the meeting, and other companies could not be reached ahead of a national holiday. The Energy Ministry says the meeting was part of an ongoing initiative to promote openness and the agency's effectiveness.