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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Second-Round Vote Date Enters Political Fray

The date for the second round of the presidential elections has become a political football, with both sides of the contest maneuvering Tuesday to manipulate the decision for their own ends.

State Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov said a bill introduced by the president to declare July 3 a public holiday, and hold the elections then, would have to wait until Friday for discussion.

The president's team is trying to move the ballot forward to mitigate the "dacha factor," in which city dwellers, the majority of whom support Boris Yeltsin, do not turn out to vote because they are spending the weekend at their country homes.

But the Communist-dominated legislature is determined to block the move. Seleznyov, a member of the Communist Party, said in his opinion the bill was unnecessary. Other members of the faction have pointed to the economic cost of declaring an extra holiday.

Until recently, the most likely date for the vote was thought to be Sunday, July 7. Under the law on presidential elections, the second round must take place no later than 15 days after the Central Electoral Commission officially announces the results of the first round, and it must fall on a non-working day.

Yury Vedeneyev, a CEC spokesman, said Tuesday that the second round would be held either July 3, a Wednesday, or July 5, a Friday.

"There is a chance that the Duma will accept the president's proposal and pass the bill, but the date for the second round is no longer a formal, but a political question," he said.

The possibility of holding the second-round vote on June 30, announced by CEC deputy chairman Alexander Ivanchenko on Monday, was now "out of the question," Vedeneyev said, adding that the results of the first round would not be made public until Friday or Saturday to ensure maximum accuracy.

CEC chairman Ryabov endorsed the idea of an election holiday Tuesday.

"We have already seized a day off from the people," he told Interfax, referring to Sunday's elections. "If we go on like that we will actually infringe on the citizens' right to rest."

A high turnout is considered crucial to Yeltsin's chances in the second round. Michael McFaul, of the Moscow Center of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, told Reuters on Monday that a 70 percent turnout would ensure a Yeltsin win. If 65 percent vote the race will be close, McFaul said, and anything less would endanger his success. Turnout at the first round was approximately 70 percent.

Vedeneyev said the CEC would prefer that the second round take place "in a normal fashion" on July 7 or 14, "but unfortunately the date of the election has assumed enormous political significance."