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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Demands TV Call-In Show

The Communist Party is demanding that state-run television give party leader Gennady Zyuganov air time for a question-and-answer session equal to that of President Vladimir Putin's live call-in show last week, the party said Tuesday.

The Communists will submit a request this week to Channel One and Rossia television that they give Zyuganov an equal amount of free air time before Nov. 3, when the campaign for the Dec. 2 State Duma elections officially kicks off, lawyer and central committee member Vadim Solovyov said.

Both the Communists and the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, have accused Putin of violating election laws with his three-hour call-in show, which they say amounted to free advertising for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, whose federal ticket Putin is heading up in the Duma elections.

Putin's explanation during the show of why he decided to lead the ticket and of "some of his social initiatives" directly violates the law that forbids government officials from "using the advantages of their official position" to campaign, Solovyov said.

SPS lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said the party would file an official complaint to the Central Elections Commission by Tuesday evening. "A president has no right to campaign," Prokhorov said.

Commission spokeswoman Viktoria Galanina said she could not comment before receiving the complaints.

A spokesman for state media holding VGTRK, which owns Rossia, said the company would consider the request.

Channel One could not be reached for comment, and e-mailed questions to the its press service went unanswered.

Commission chief Vladimir Churov said last week that he had "no objections" to Putin's show.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the live call-in session had been held for several years running. "This format has not been created especially for elections," Peskov said.

Andrei Vorobyov, head of United Russia's executive committee, said Putin was merely fulfilling his Kremlin duties.