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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parties Face a Ban on Street Ads

Political parties and candidates might be barred from using billboards in electoral campaigns, depriving opposition parties of one of their few remaining sources of widespread public exposure, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said.

The agency said in a letter to the Central Elections Committee that the use of billboards in election campaigns violated advertising laws, a service spokeswoman said Friday.

The Central Elections Commission asked the agency in April to clarify whether candidates had the right to use billboards, an elections commission spokesman said.

At issue is a March 2006 law that says "an object of advertising" is anything "intended for sale, exchange or other realization." The law explicitly says it does not regulate political advertising, which is covered by other laws. All billboard advertising, however, is regulated by the March 2006 law.

"Our specialists have discovered a contradiction in the law, and we hope that lawmakers will remove that before the elections," the anti-monopoly service spokeswoman said.

A ban would hit opposition parties hard ahead of national elections.

But Communist deputy head Ivan Melnikov said the use of billboards should be regulated, noting that the deep pockets of pro-Kremlin parties United Russia and A Just Russia allowed them to blanket St. Petersburg with billboards at the expense of smaller parties during local elections in March.