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02.04.2023, . 08:54


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On Election Commissions working with the mass media in the course of campaigning to elect the President of the Russian Federation S.Bolshakov.

Given the early election of the President of the Russian Federation, the issue of the Election Commissions working together with the mass media has become particularly crucial. As the experience of campaigning in the election of deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation demonstrates, it was campaigning activities which turned out to be a stumbling block in relations between the two subjects involved in the electoral process. In view of this circumstance, and for the purpose of assuring uniform application of the Federal Law «On Electing the President of the Russian Federation», the efforts undertaken by election commissions to explain the existing Russian election laws and specifics of their implementation in the election of the President of the Russian Federation, as well as keeping all electoral participants duly advised of the timelines and procedures for performing appropriate election-related functions throughout the stages of the electoral process come to be of critical importance.

The legal base for the election commissions to work together with mass media vehicles in the course of the year 2000 election campaign is formed by the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Rights of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» and the Federal Law of January 5, 2000 «On Electing the President of the Russian Federation».

These two laws explicitly define the status, powers and procedures for relevant election commissions, as well as the rights and responsibilities of television and radio broadcasters and periodical print media vehicles.

One of the more challenging tasks posed by the aforementioned laws is to improve the quality of mass media coverage of elections and enable voters to exercise their right to enjoy access to comprehensive, truthful and unbiased reporting on the running candidates.

Under the Federal Law «On Electing the President of the Russian Federation»(further on referred to as the Federal Law), the period of an individual candidate's election campaign begins upon their registration and ends at 00 hours (local time) one day before the balloting.

Given the circumstance of early elections of the President of the Russian Federation in the year 2000, the relevant campaign timelines are cut by one quarter.

Election campaigning via the channels of television and radio broadcasters are only allowed on working days within the period that, in the case of early elections, shall begin twenty three (23) days prior to the voting day and end one day before the balloting, i.e. from March 3 through March 24, 2000.

Election campaigning via the periodical print media is allowed within the period that, in the case of early elections, shall begin thirty (30) days prior to the voting day and end one day before the balloting, i.e. from February 25 through March 24,2000.

Under the new Federal Law «On Electing the President of the Russian Federation», election commissions are committed to keep the electorate informed of the timelines and procedures for election-related moves, of the progress of the given campaign and the registered candidates. Pursuant to the established legal provisions, the relevant election commissions are authorized to gain access to free air-time with certain television and radio broadcasters and use uncharged space with certain print media periodicals.

The Federal Law explicitly defines the television and radio broadcasting organizations (further on referred to as TRBO entities) and periodical print media vehicles (further on referred to as PPMV entities) tasked to make available the aforementioned opportunities for the election commissions. These entities include the state-run all-Russian television and radio broadcasting organizations (providing for effective coverage of more than half the Subjects of the Russian Federation), state-run all-Russian periodical print media vehicles (distributed to subscribers residing in more than half the Subjects of the Russian Federation), state-run regional television and radio broadcasters (providing for effective coverage of less than half the Subjects of the Russian Federation) and state-run regional print media vehicles (distributed to subscribers residing in less than half the Subjects of the Russian Federation).

The aforementioned TRBO and PPMV entities are also committed to support the election commissions with relevant reports and materials and respond to election commission inquiries within five days until five days prior to the voting day (including the balloting day), during which time all inquiries shall be satisfied immediately.

The dates and hours for airing the free-of-charge election commercials via the channels of state-run all-Russian television and radio organizations shall be fixed through the drawing of lots arranged by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, with representatives of the relevant television and radio broadcasters being in attendance. The draw to determine the dates and hours for airing the free-of-charge campaign propaganda materials via the channels of state-run regional television and radio broadcasters shall be conducted by the election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation. The draw to fix the dates for the given print media periodical to carry the free-of-charge campaign propaganda materials shall be conducted by the relevant state-run all-Russian print media vehicle, with the parties concerned being in attendance.

Television and radio broadcasting organizations and print media editorial offices shall provide air-time and print space for the purpose of election campaigning only to special subjects of the electoral process - registered candidates who are nominated to run for the office of the President of the Russian Federation and who, notably, are free to design the pattern and character of their campaign activities.

Television and radio broadcasting organizations and print media periodicals shall make public the information on sizes and terms of payments (in the currency of the Russian Federation) for air-time and print space no later than twenty three (23) days following the official release of the decision calling the election of the President of the Russian Federation, i.e. no later than January 29, 2000, and forward relevant notifications on the readiness to accord air-time and print space for the registered candidates: the appropriate reports being dispatched to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation - by the all-Russian television and radio organizations and editorial offices of the all-Russian print media periodicals; to the election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation - by the relevant regional and municipal television and radio broadcasting organizations and the editorial offices of regional and municipal print media vehicles.

Non-governmental TRBO and PPMV entities shall apply the same payment terms when providing airtime and print space to registered candidates.

As requested by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation or election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, the relevant TRBO and PPMV entities shall make available the documents confirming the given registered candidate's consent to cover the cost of paid services provided by the contractor in question.

With the candidates achieving registration, the public opinion surveyors tracking public sentiments for the purpose of revealing the findings through the media, as well as the organizations making public the results of such polls and voting forecasts shall dispatch copies of their releases to that effect to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation in order to help build up a database that interested parties (including foreign or international observers) may borrow from at some later stage.

Should any TRBO or PPMV entity happen to breach the election campaigning procedures established by the Federal Law, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation or Election Commission of a Subject of the Russian Federation shall have the right to appeal to the relevant law-enforcement body, court of law or executive body of state authority performing regulatory functions in the area of mass media and demand that the unlawful campaigning activities should be terminated and the relevant TRBO or PPMV entities and their officials be taken legal action against in keeping with the existing laws of the Russian Federation.

Law enforcement and other state authority agencies shall seek to limit unlawful campaigning activities and immediately advise the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation and relevant Election Commission of a Subject of the Russian Federation of the infractions recorded and corrective measures undertaken.

Moreover, administrative liabilities for TRBO and PPMV entities are established by the December 8, 1999 Federal Law «On Administrative Liability of Legal Entities for Infractions of the Russian Federation Legislation on Elections and Referendums». The RSFSR Code on administrative infractions in the wording of the January 2, 2000 Federal Law «On Introducing Amendments and Additions to the RSFSR Code on Administrative Infractions» established liability for TRBO and PPMV officials charged with similar violations of the law.

Sergey Bolshakov,
Member of the Central Election Commission
of the Russian Federation

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