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#6 - JRL 7230
41 parties to take part in Russian parliamentary elections
June 19, 2003

According to the information of the Russian Ministry of Justice, 51 political parties have been registered in Russia by today. 41 parties registered their regional branches in more than half of the Russian regions. Consequently, they will have the right to take part in the elections to the State Duma next December, Alexander Kudryavtsev, representative of the Russian Ministry of Justice, said at a meeting at the Central Electoral Commission on Thursday. According to his information, 250 public organisations, which have the right to take part in Duma elections as part of blocs, have been registered in Russia.

Speaking about a possible number of the parties, which could take part in the elections, Alexander Veshnyakov, head of the Central Electoral Commission, said that only 20 parties and blocks had real chances.

Veshnyakov supported the idea of concluding an agreement by the parties prior to the elections on fighting back "black technologies." This could remove many problems at the elections and become "one of the mechanisms of effective public control," he said at the meeting.

Andrei Przhezdomsky, executive director of the Free Elections Foundation, suggested unification in fighting "black technologies" and the signing of a public agreement recording the main principles of cooperation between parties. He said the draft versions of the public agreement and of the regulations on the Observation Council, which is to control the fulfillment of the agreements, had been prepared already. He suggested that the documents should be adopted at a forum, due to be opened late in August, several days before the official start of the electoral campaign.

A conference with the participation of leaders of political parties, heads of both chambers of the Russian parliament, journalists and specialists in political technologies will be held at the Central Electoral Commission on June 26. It will form an organizing committee for drafting the public agreement and regulations on the Observation Council.

The captains of the Russian business, who are also called oligarchs, may take part in electoral campaigns, but it is important that they act openly, in compliance with the law, Veshnyakov said. Commenting on press reports about the intention of representatives of Russian big business to render financial support for this or that political party, Veshnyakov said he liked it was being done openly. "If one does it in a secret way, he is in for a lot of trouble, up to criminal prosecution," he said.

According to Veshnyakov, the oligarchs may take part in electoral campaigns, to nominate themselves and to support openly this or that political force, the way it is done in any democratic country.

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