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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Opposition TV advertising disappears from regions

File Photo of Russian Television StudioThe city of St. Petersburg, Kursk region and Perm region are taking the opposition off the state controlled TV airwaves as elections draw near.

With only two months left to go before Russia goes to the polls to choose its State Duma the TV authorities say there is no persuading left to do. "I am convinced that all the attempts of parties other than [ruling] United Russia to do so disrupt the comfortable mindset of young people, our main viewers," Elena Andreyeva, general director of Perm region TV channel VETTA, told Kommersant.

Getting edgy

Nadia Arbatova of the Institute for World Economy and World Relations told The Moscow News that the reason is that Prime Minister Putin's leading party is losing ground in the regions. "[Andreyeva] could not take such an important decision herself. It is crystal clear that it was a political decision taken at least on the top level of the regional administration with Moscow's blessing."

Moscow will keep its election broadcasts, Arbatova said, to keep people convinced that the election is not the "farce" that many of the voting public fear it will be. "If central TV channels didn't show party pre-election debates in Moscow, it would dent the image of a 'just and free election' in December and entail a wave of criticism in Russian liberal circles and in the West.

"Aside from this, United Russia has a special debating team that includes eloquent and experienced professionals. The situation in the regions is different," Arbatova said.

Disgruntlement on the ground

The young people who spoke to The Moscow News in St. Petersburg were for the main part unmoved by Andreyeva's concern, "It goes to show again that we have democracy and free elections in our country," Olya, a teacher, sarcastically told The Moscow News.

"Welcome Medveev and Putin with their innovations and nanotechnologies," said translator Lyuba. "It's high time to buy a ticket out of here to some other country," said her colleague Katya.

Go easy

"There's no sense blaming the regional authorities. The situation in the country is that there is no decent opposition to United Russia and other parties bear only a resemblance to an opposition ... It's sad, but it just reflects the situation in the country as a whole," journalist Ivan told The Moscow News.

Student Lyuba was also happy to stand back, "I don't care, I don't watch TV, it's a waste of time" she said.

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