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02.04.2023, . 10:44


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Election Campaigning

A prominent place is occupied in the new Federal Law by provisions which regulate election campaigning of electoral associations, electoral blocs in the course of which voters are offered a possibility to compare election programs of candidates, political parties and movements and make an intelligent choice on voting day.

Article 53 of the new Federal Law states that election campaigning starts from the day on which a federal list of candidates is registered, save the cases provided by the Law (they relate to the period for provision of free air time and free print space) and ends at 00.00 local time a day before voting day.

Under Article 91 of the Federal Law a failure to comply with the established campaigning periods may serve as a reason for a refusal to register a federal list of candidates or for cancellation of the registration.

The Federal Law sets forth in detail the rules for the provision of free air time and free space by TV and radio companies and editorial offices of newspapers and periodicals to electoral associations, electoral blocs in the national mass media (Articles 55 - 57).

Nevertheless, in preparation for this meeting we have produced a methodological paper Main Provisions of the Federal Law On the Election of Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Relating to Election Campaigning and Information of Voters Through the Mass Media. You can study this paper in detail and, therefore, this report will only deal with some aspects of participation of electoral associations, electoral blocs in election campaigning through the mass media and their interaction with election commissions.

Free air time on the channels of TV and radio companies will be provided in the period which starts 30 days and ends a day prior to voting day (Clause 3 of Article 56). Free space will be provided by editorial offices of newspapers and periodicals in the period which starts 40 days and ends a day prior to voting day (Clause 3 of Article 57). Such time limits for the provision of free air time and free space by state-owned mass media are established to prevent violation of the principle of equal conditions for the access to the mass media, i.e. to ensure that all federal lists of candidates are registered by the time election campaigning starts.

This requirement of the new Federal Law does not apply to the mass media without state or municipal participation, in which election campaigning may start directly after registration of a federal list of candidates.

The total amount of free air time to be made available to electoral associations, electoral blocs for election campaigning must be not less than one hour every day (Clause 5 of Article 56). The total minimum amount of weekly space to be made available to electoral associations, electoral blocs free of charge must be not less than 10 percent of the total weekly space of the publication (Clause 4 of Article 57). Free air time and free space are provided for election campaigning only on weekdays.

The dates on which election propaganda materials are to be broadcast free of charge and the time of transmission are determined by means of lot-drawing organized by the Central Election Commission together with TV and radio companies. The dates of free publication of election propaganda materials in print media are determined by means of lot-drawing organized by the editorial office of the newspaper or periodical.

The Federal Law lays down the rules for campaigning to be carried out by electoral associations, electoral blocs on a paid basis.

Not later than 20 days after official publication of the presidential decree calling the elections both state-owned and non-state-owned TV and radio companies and print media (their editorial offices) must publish the rates to be charged for provision of air time and space for election campaigning purposes and notify the Central Election Commission of Russia, the election commissions of the subjects of the Russian Federation about the readiness to provide air time, print space. Without publication of this information provision of air time and print space is not allowed (Clause 8 of Article 55).

All TV and radio companies and editorial offices of print media which have published this information are obliged to provide air time, space for campaigning purposes at equal rates and on equal terms to all electoral associations, electoral blocs, which want to use them.

The electoral legislation does not contain a definition of political advertising as a form of election campaigning. Such advertising carried out in the period between elections must be regarded as being outside the framework of regulation of the electoral legislation. Its purpose is to popularize political parties, movements, public associations and their leadership. The expenses on this advertising are paid from the funds of political organizations and have nothing to do with electoral funds.

Political advertising within the framework of an election campaign aims to persuade voters to take part in the elections and vote for or against definite candidates, federal lists of candidates. Therefore, it is subject to all requirements set forth in Chapter VIII Election Campaigning of the Federal Law

The new Federal Law establishes guarantees for organization by electoral associations, electoral blocs of meetings with citizens, public debates and discussions, rallies and marches. All regional and local authorities must assist them in these campaigning activities. The heads of local self-government must consider applications for provision of premises for meetings with voters within three days upon their submission (Clauses 1, 2 of Article 58).

Electoral associations, electoral blocs may, on a contractual basis, rent any premises owned by individuals and organizations, regardless of the form of ownership, with the exception of buildings included in the State Register of Valuable Memorials of the Cultural Heritage of the Russian Federation Peoples (Clauses 4, 5 of Article 58).

Authorized representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs, their agents must take into consideration special rules for organization of meetings with voters - servicemen. Under applicable laws, election campaigning is prohibited in the territory of military units, in military organizations and institutions. Therefore, such meetings are organized by the commanding officer of the military unit together with the district election commission, with mandatory invitation of authorized representatives of all electoral associations, electoral blocs which registered federal lists of candidates (Clause 6 of Article 58).

Certain changes were made in the conditions for the issuance and dissemination of printed, audio-visual and other election propaganda materials. The Federal Law On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum lays down a rule under which an electoral association, electoral bloc which issues printed election propaganda materials must submit these materials or their copies, before their dissemination, to the election commission of a subject of the Russian Federation or to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (Clause 4 of Article 59). In addition to this, advertising agencies with state participation must now establish equal terms for acceptance of election propaganda materials from participants in the electoral process.

In pursuance of Clause 6 of the same article not later than 18 November 1999 the bodies of local self-government must designate special places for displaying printed election propaganda materials in the territory of each electoral precinct. Authorized representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs have the right to obtain the list of such places and their addresses from a territorial election commission.

The Federal Law deals at length with measures to stop abuses in the course of an election campaign.

The concept of bribery in election campaigning is now interpreted more broadly: electoral associations, electoral blocs, their agents are prohibited from paying or promising to pay remuneration to voters who have carried out organizational work for them, making the payment conditional on voting returns, and from rendering services to such voters free of charge or at reduced rates (Clause 2 of Article 60).

If an electoral association, electoral bloc misuses the freedom of mass information (warmongering propaganda or propaganda calling for violent seizure of power, inciting social, racial, national, religious hatred and enmity) the Central Election Commission must apply to a court for canceling registration of the federal list of candidates (Clauses 1, 5 of Article 60). If an electoral association, electoral bloc violates other rules of election campaigning, the Commission may issue a warning to its authorized representatives, request law-enforcement and other bodies to put an end to unlawful propaganda or cancel registration of a federal list of candidates.

Under the Federal Law electoral associations, electoral blocs which have not received the necessary number of votes according to voting returns and have not taken part in the distribution of deputy mandates or which have recalled a federal list of candidates without any compelling reasons must fully compensate TV and radio companies and editorial offices of print media for the cost of air time and space which was provided to them free of charge. The information about such electoral associations, electoral blocs will be furnished by the Central Election Commission to TV and radio companies and editorial offices of print media within three days after official publication of the general election results (Clauses 5, 7 of Article 67).

As you know, it is during the election campaigning period that image makers use law-breaking election technologies most frequently, discrediting the idea of free democratic elections in the eyes of voters.

To prevent the use of dirty election technologies in the forthcoming parliamentary elections the Central Election Commission organized a roundtable on the theme Honest elections - elections without law-breaking technologies. This roundtable was held on 4 June 1999 on the request of several public organizations (inter-regional organization Free Society of Social Technologists, Russian Public Relations Association, Association of Political Consulting Centers) with the participation of members of the Central Election Commission, representatives of election commissions of several subjects of the Russian Federation, organizations and persons specializing in the field of public technologies.

In the course of the discussion the roundtable participants suggested measures to establish interaction between public organizations working on the electoral services market and election commissions (improvement of electoral laws, joint preparation of instructional materials of the Central Election Commission of Russia, organization of public control during the election campaigning period, etc.).

The roundtable participants reached an understanding to draft and sign an agreement (charter) of a political consultant on the non-use of law-breaking technologies and on measures to prevent their use by other participants in the electoral process. At present, this documents is being prepared for signing.

However, it is worthwhile once again to remind the representatives of political public associations that they must be fastidious and scrupulous when establishing business contacts on the electoral services market.

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