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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fund Delays 'Threaten' Election

The Central Election Committee charged Thursday that the Finance Ministry had not transferred promised funding to organize the constitutional referendum, a failing which could "threaten" the poll.

Tamara Petronavichus, head of the financial department of the committee, said it had only received the first 15 billion rubles (about $1. 25 million) Thursday of the 82. 7 billion promised by President Boris Yeltsin. The Finance Ministry denied the accusation.

The referendum funding, which is supposed to be transferred by Sunday, is part of a package of 257 billion rubles to cover costs of both the referendum and the parliamentary elections Dec. 12.

Petronavichus said that the delay could "threaten" the elections, explaining that it would be "very difficult to get the money to the regions on time, because banks usually take 10 days for a transaction".

If this happens, the money would arrive on Dec. 13, a day after the election. She said the 15 billion rubles allocated on Thursday had been transferred immediately within Moscow through help from the Central Bank.

Alexander Smirnov, head of the Federal Treasury at the Finance Ministry, denied the charge. He said 50 billion rubles had been transferred, as part of a total 225 billion rubles provided for the elections, which he said would be transferred before the Sunday deadline.

Nikolai Ryabov, head of the election committee, "and all those other people at the committee are continuously kicking in doors", Smirnov said, using a Russian saying meaning the committee was impudently demanding money without showing respect.

"They demand money, without taking into consideration how big a sum it is", Smirnov said. "We have already had to cut social expenditures to provide financing for the elections".

In another development, a U. S. -Russian study released Thursday said the pro-Yeltsin Russia's Choice bloc received the lion's share of media coverage during the first two weeks of the parliamentary election campaign.

The study by the Russian-American Press and Information Center of television, radio and newspaper coverage dealt with the period from Nov. 9-21, before television began giving equal airtime to all parties running in the election. The center's co-director Elisabeth Schillinger said the coverage was "outrageously" disproportionate.

The report showed a near media blackout of the bloc led by economist Grigory Yavlinsky and other pro-reform parties that have distanced themselves from the government.

Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar of Russia's Choice had the most television exposure with 28 minutes on Ostankino, the most influential national channel. Hardline nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky could be heard for 17 minutes, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov received 6 1/2 minutes, while Grigory Yavlinsky got just 10 seconds.