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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CEC to Propose Rules Limiting Pre-Election 'Agitation'

Central Election Commissioner Alexander Veshnyakov made it clear Thursday that he does not intend to back down from his threat to harness the press on the eve of State Duma elections, announcing that he would introduce "corrections" to the election law.

At a meeting with television and radio heads, Veshnyakov said he was proposing amendments under which journalists would be allowed to mention "candidates' last names and the names of blocs and associations." Any further coverage would be read as agitation, Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

Veshnyakov said he was submitting to the Duma amendments that would include protocols for "pre-election agitation" and strict punishment for offenders. He sai d these amendments should be perfected and in place by next month.

"[Violators] will be assessed by the CEC as pre-election agitators, operating outside the realm of federal law," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

Veshnyakov said reining in the press in this way would not result in "information starvation" for Russian voters, whom he promised a special issue of the government newspaper, Rossiskaya Gazeta, containing the personal property information of all candidates.

Two weeks ago, the CEC ruled that ORT anchor Sergei Dorenko was "carrying out agitation activities" against Fatherland-All Russia for his criticism of two of the bloc's leaders, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Veshnyakov said these actions are prohibited under the law unless paid for by candidates. It also said broadcasting or publishing any information damaging to the reputation of a registered candidate is illegal.

Press Minister Mikhail Lesin warned Veshnyakov that, should he pursue the case against ORT, the Press Ministry would protect freedom of the press in the Constitutional Court.