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MOSCOW, November 16 (Itar-Tass) —— A heated and prolonged discussion unfolded on Wednesday over the rules of procedure of the working group for media disputes at the session of Russia’s Central Election Commission. CEC members from the Communist Party and Fair Russia, as well as their counterparts with advisory rights, emphatically demanded resolving media disputes at full-scale meetings of the Central Election Commission.
According to the CEC member Yevgeny Kolyushin (CPRF), the procedures of the working group were "an imitation of consideration of complaints and grievances." Moreover, he believes that the adopted procedures left no chance of challenging decisions in court.
CEC member Sergey Danilenko (Fair Russia) insisted that the Central Election Commission should consider the most serious complaints.
The longest dialogue was between the CEC member with advisory rights Kirill Serdyuklov, of the Communist Party, and the head of the working group, CEC member Maya Grishina. Serdyukov had managed to ask Grishina 17 questions, after which CEC member Valery Kryukov, “raised the question of stopping asking questions." His colleague, Tatiana Voronova argued that "the composition of the parties participating in the working group was highly professional." "The meeting was arranged so remarkably well that the drive still remains," she said. During the debate some were protesting against turning the meeting of the CEC into a "political show."
CEC Chairman Vladimir Churov made no secret of the fact he was "very alarmed by statements he heard from CEC members with advisory rights." He believes that the issues being addressed by the working group on media disputes "cannot be qualified as complaints."
"Formally, there are signs of complaints, but they do not contain any demands for canceling decisions by election commissions," he said.
Churov acknowledged that "today 90 percent of complaints received by the CEC are devoted to media coverage disputes." However, he stressed the professionalism of the working group and the unprecedented fact that its meeting was attended by international observers. "This group has risen in defense of the freedom of speech, which these days is preserved only in Russia," said Churov. He said the CEC in general demonstrated "unique openness to the outside world". Its meetings are broadcast through the Internet.
As a result, the procedures of the working group were approved by a majority vote. Only Kolyushin and Danilenko abstained.
Commenting on the results of today's meeting, the CEC Secretary Nikolai Konkin admitted that "the debate was hot." Answering the question from Itar-Tass about journalists' ability to attend meetings of the working group on media coverage disputes Konkin explained that it included enough journalists. "The working group includes the heads of some media, and heads of journalists' unions," said the CEC secretary.
He also confirmed that information disputes would continue to be considered by the working group, "if there are no complaints subject to consideration at a meeting of the CEC."