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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

10 Parties Registered for City Duma Vote

Ten political parties will compete for seats in the Moscow City Duma in the Dec. 4 elections, electoral officials said Friday, as registration ended and campaigning began in earnest for what promises to be the most fiercely contested vote in the city's post-Soviet history.

Debates and party promotional videos will both hit the air on Nov. 7, when Moscow's two television channels start providing free airtime as part of the campaign.

United Russia, the Communist Party, Rodina and the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDPR, all took advantage of their having representation in the State Duma to receive automatic registration for the race, thus avoiding the hassle of gathering thousands of signatures of support or paying a deposit of 15 million rubles (about $500,000) to get registered.

The other six registered parties are Yabloko, the Party of Social Justice, Free Russia, People's Will, the Party of Life and the recently formed Green Party. Members of the Union of Right Forces party are running on Yabloko's ticket.

Only one party, the Social Democratic Party, was denied registration after 25 percent of the signatures it submitted were deemed invalid, city elections committee spokesman Vyacheslav Shulenin said Friday.

Under eleventh-hour amendments approved by the current City Duma, parties must receive at least 10 percent of the vote to win seats.

The city elections committee held a drawing Friday to determine the time slots of the free television airtime. Each party will be able to air its video four times and participate in debates with opponents four times between Nov. 7 and Dec. 2 on TV Center and Stolitsa. The results of the drawing and a schedule of debates are to be released Tuesday.

The role of the City Duma is set to expand under new federal legislation that, among other things, gives it the right to confirm the president's appointment for the next mayor in 2007. Political heavyweights like Mayor Yury Luzhkov and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky are running as the top candidates for their parties in an apparent attempt to attract more votes but will not necessarily win seats in the 35-member chamber.

Twenty seats will be divided among the winning parties, while the remaining 15 will be decided in individual district races.

In addition to the candidates on the party lists, electoral officials are wrapping up the registration of candidates who will run in individual district races, Shulenin said. A total of 103 individuals have applied, he said.

In the past, City Duma elections have been lackluster, and city authorities have had to work overtime to coax voters to polling stations. City election commission chief Valentin Gorbunov said he was worried that turnout could be low on Dec. 4 as well.

"We are concerned that the date of the vote will coincide with the peak of the flu epidemic season in Moscow," Gorbunov said on Ekho Moskvy radio on Friday.

He said that other than being sick, fear of contracting the flu might dissuade voters from showing up as well.

City authorities have plastered metro cars with posters urging voters to participate.

Incidentally, the current City Duma reduced the turnout needed to validate the elections from 25 percent to 20 percent. Deputies also removed the "against all" option from ballots, preventing voters from being able to cast what has long been considered a protest vote.

A recent survey by the independent Levada Center found that 46 percent of voters would pick United Russia, followed by 15 percent for Rodina, 15 percent for the combined Yabloko/SPS ticket and 10 percent for the Liberal Democratic Party. The survey had a margin of error of 5.4 percentage points.