All of the political parties taking part in elections to the Russian State Duma on December 4 will receive television air time, for the first time in recent years, a deputy chief of a state-run broadcaster said on Monday.
In addition, the ruling United Russia party will participate in debates for the first time since its formation in 2001.
The seven registered parties – United Russia, the Communists, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), A Just Russia, Yabloko, Right Cause and Patriots of Russia – will draw lots to distribute broadcasting time on four television channels and four radio stations belonging to state-run broadcasting group VGTRK, the group’s deputy chief, Dmitry Kiselyov, said.
“This year, VGTRK will have the opportunity to provide far more time for election campaigns than in previous elections,” Kiselyov said. “The debates will be held on Rossiya 1 channel from November 10. It will be the first debates to be held free-of-charge .”
In mid-October, reports said that lower house Speaker Boris Gryzlov, a United Russia member, might represent the party in televised debates. President Dmitry Medvedev, who heads the party’s election list, will not participate in the debates, sources reported in late September.
No party has turned down the offer to attend the debates, Maya Grishina, a member of the Central Election Commission, said earlier. “All the parties have been allowed to draw lots for free air time,” she added.
The liberal Yabloko party, which reportedly owed money to the media after the 2007 campaign, will also participate in the lottery.
“No media outlet has lodged any claims. We are legitimate participants in the debates,” said party leader Sergei Mitrokin.